Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Laura Sinfield


  I would like to contribute the following, based on my experiences in Edinburgh in the last year.

  I find that most pubs charge around 80p for a glass (about a 1/2 pint) of branded soft-drink, such as Diet-coke, and slightly less for a glass of non-branded soft-drink, such as lime & soda. I don't even bother trying to drink orange-juice and lemonade, since the prices are ludicrous. As a young women who has had a drink problem in the past, I frequently choose to take my car along on an evening out. This both helps me to stay totally sober, and also helps stop the many people trying to persuade me to "have a real drink". It is also safer, in terms of personal safety.

  However, I have at various times had the experience of being charged the following:

    —  £1.09 for a glass of Diet-coke ("Doctor's", Lauriston Place, Edinburgh)

    —  £1.80 for a glass of lime & soda ("Canny Man's", Morningside Road, Edinburgh), albeit with a nice swizzle-stick and slice of fresh lime.

    —  and in one astounding instance, being charged £2.10 for my pint-glass of lime & soda, but only £2.00 for my friend's pint of cider ("The Three Sisters", Cowgate, Edinburgh). This most certainly does not help encourage sensible alcohol drinking, nor does it help prevent drink driving.

  Pubs which are around the acceptable price-level for soft drinks range from city-centre pubs such as the Holyrood Tavern (80p/glass) or the Three Quarters (a very good £1.20/large-glass), to rural pubs in tiny villages such as the Allan Ramsey in Carlops (80p/glass) or the Romanno Bridge Inn (75p/330ml can), to my local Boroughmuir rugby club (60p/330ml can) and rugby clubs in the borders such as Galashiels and Hawick (both 80p/glass) and pubs in borders towns such as the King's Arms in Melrose (£1.30-ish/pint-glass). Even in some nightclubs such as the Subway (Cowgate, Edinburgh) charge only £1.00 for a 330ml can.

  There is thus obviously no real justification for expensive soft drinks, such as higher transport costs in rural areas, higher business-rates charges in the city-centre, etc. The pubs mentioned above are simply making the maximum profit at the expense of the soft-drinker. There may be some excuse with branded soft drinks, since they have to be purchased from a supplier, but there can be no excuse at all for charging more than two pounds for a pint glass of lime & soda.

  One final observation—when I lived in Sydney, Australia, in 1987-88 there was a policy in almost every pub and nightclub that lime & water by the large glass was completely free. You might consider encouraging this practice here.

  I hope that part of your examination of the Drinks Industry in Scotland may not just recommend, but enforce, changes in the pricing of soft drinks in pubs and clubs.

Laura Sinfield

November 2000

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