A responsible reality check

08 August, 2008

Last edition you wrote about a scheme that is supposed to break down barriers between shopkeepers and "law-enforcement authorities" (OLN, July 25), by encouraging retailers, police, schools, Trading Standards, youth clubs and the local press to all work together.

On paper, this idea sounds great - what better way to combat under-age drinking than by us all supporting each other and sharing information?

But I'm afraid, the reality is very different.

I would love to have my local press write a glowing report about all the things I do to deter kids from coming into my shop, but they're a lot more interested in sensationalising stories about "evil" retailers who have knowingly sold vodka to school kids.

My local council is more preoccupied with dishing out parking fines than popping into my shop .

Yes, I agree it's an admirable idea, and yes I might sound like a Scrooge who won't even give it a go, but I'm a realist who knows that public bodies serve their own needs and have their own agendas, which doesn't give them the time or money to help me be a more responsible retailer.

I'll just have to do that on my own.

Name and address withheld

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All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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