Pub rules - 'The changes have been bad for bar takings'

DRINKERS across the Capital might raise a glass today to pub tycoon Kevin Doyle after he declared war on the Capital's nonsensical new bar rules.

In taking the city council to court, the Caledonian Heritable boss will know that he is flying the flag for his already battered industry.

The present day is said to be the worst time to be in the bar business since the Victorian era.

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The smoking ban, restrictions on happy hours and other alcohol promotions, increased beer tax, huge rises in licence fees, competition from loss-leading supermarkets and the impact of the recession have all hit the trade hard in recent years.

While some of these changes – particularly the ban on smoking – could be argued to be for the greater good, they have been extremely bad for pub takings.

The well-intentioned, but completely misguided attempt to force all bars to provide an equal number of male and female toilets is just the latest blow.

With more than 150 pubs closing every year in Scotland, the days may be increasingly numbered for many popular watering holes, particularly those "old men's boozers" which are among the most likely to fall foul of the new gender rules.

These pubs do not ban women, and they do provide female toilets, just not enough of them to satisfy the pen-pushers. Understandably, they do not attract large numbers of women, and it makes no sense to force them to behave as if they do.

Neither does it make sense to grind more of an industry that employs 50,000 people in Scotland and generates 2 billion a year in tax into the ground.

Cheers, Mr Doyle, and good luck in court.

End of an era

ST Margaret's School has been part of the city's educational landscape for 120 years – just as long as the Forth Bridge has spanned the waters to Fife.

The parents of today's pupils certainly lived up to its motto – "Let Us Live Bravely" – by trying to raise the 2 million needed to keep it open.

But the fact that no-one ultimately came forward with an offer for the school as a whole goes to show it is no longer a viable business.

Today there are former St Margaret's girls making valuable contributions in all walks of Edinburgh life. We wish the present pupils the same success for the future on a sad day for all associated with the school.