Balance North East
They are wholly (with one possible exception) funded by the UK taxpayer:
They have already lobbied government for controls on alcohol, first by repeating the affordability myth:
Then providing the usual solutions for the perceived problems:
- Make it less affordable so poor people get poorer
- Make it less available, even though 24 hour licensing didn't actually bring in wholesale 24x7 sales
- Restricting promotion, which isn't part of slippery slope of the tobacco control template. Oh no it isn't
- Spending more tax-payer money on unneeded services
- More bully-statism in educating the proles
- Even more tax-payers money to fund groups like Balance North East
In July 2012, they held a conference in Durham, and one of the tweets coming from that conference was
As Dick Puddlecote pointed out since there are already laws in this country to deal with drunk (or even sober) troublemakers, it's troubling that a government funded astroturfing group feels the need to lobby government for more bully-statism.
Conflicts of Interest
UK Parliament - May 2012
In a submission to the Health Committee on "The Government's Alcohol Strategy" Balance North East stated:
This neatly ignores that alcohol-control bodies, such as Balance North East that are fully funded by the tax-payer, should also not be playing such a central role in helping shape Government alcohol policy, since it is Government lobbying itself, and is thus also in a fundamental conflict of interest.
They go further to state that:
This clearly presumes that
- alcohol consumption is increasing in the UK and
- that "something must be done."
Alcohol consumption has actually decreased in every year from 2004 (to 2011 for which the latest figures are available,) and overall has been fairly static since 1986. Claims that there would be a minimal effect on those drinking within the (laughably low) guidelines are easily shown to be false when one considers that as the price of the 'cheaper' brands approaches parity with that of the 'premium' brands, the 'premium' brands will naturally increase their prices simply to differentiate themselves from the 'cheap stuff.'
With (4) leading to "Public Perceptions Survey 2011—produced by Balance, North East of England Alcohol Office.", a no doubt - self-serving questionnaire with questions designed to elicit the responses Balance required. Neither the questionnaire itself, or the results, are available for public scrutiny. Onto the specific points made:
- over half had seen a decline in business in the previous year
Not surprising since we've had the ongoing repercussions of both the smoking ban and the recession
- 72% saw customers arriving later due to pre-loading
Or arriving later since they don't want to spend as much, or arriving later since they went to a different pub or any other number of reasons. I find it suspicious that all 176 out of 244 landlords cited pre-loading as the reason their customers were arriving later. Presuming of course that "one customer pre-loading out of all those arriving later who didn't" counts towards their final figure of 72%. We can't tell since we can't see the survey or the results.
- 81% would support the introduction of a minimum price in the North East
Suspicious. "Would you like to see supermarkets have to adhere to a minimum pricing [so that their prices are more on a parity with pub prices]" would naturally elicit a "yes." Completely ignores the fact that pub prices have always been more expensive that supermarket/off-licence prices since pubs have overheads that the supermarket/off-licences either don't have or can cross-subsidise, such as labour, rates, energy bills.
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