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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 9th Mar 2015 - JD Wetherspoon refutes £17m bid report
JD Wetherspoon refutes £17m bid report: Wetherspoon has refuted articles in the Publican’s Morning Advertiser and M&C Report which claimed that it had a bid of more than £17 million rejected for a number of Sports Bar & Grill outlets. Wetherspoon did not bid this amount of money for the sites, and a substantially lower bid by Wetherspoon was accepted, a spokesman said. Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “We pulled out of the transaction following further inspection of the sites, leases and licences and did not, as reported, reduce the bid by £4 million one day ahead of completion. The press reports on this aborted transaction have been highly inaccurate in material areas and it is important to correct these inaccuracies.”

Scottish government calls for ban on alcohol and junk food advertising before 9pm: Alcohol and junk food advertising should be prohibited before the 9pm watershed in order to protect children, Scottish Public Health Minister Maureen Watt has argued. Watt has written to UK government ministers arguing that the move would protect children from exposure to powerful marketing messages and branding. Control over broadcast advertising is reserved to Westminster. Currently, adverts for alcohol and high fat, salt and sugar foods are not permitted during children’s programming. But they are allowed during early evening shows that are watched by large numbers of young people. Stronger restrictions are supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the British Medical Association (BMA) and Alcohol Focus Scotland. Watt said: “In recent years the rate of obesity has been relatively stable, but still unacceptably high, and there have been some reductions in alcohol-related harm. But we still, in general, have diets that are far too high in fat, sugar and salt, and levels of alcohol-related harm which are significantly higher than they were just a few decades ago. If we are to tackle the significant public health problems we face, we need bold solutions. We need a culture change in the way we think about alcohol and food high in fat, salt and sugar. There is a wealth of research which shows that children seeing these adverts while they are watching their favourite family programmes respond positively towards them and they affect their behaviour. That’s something that needs to be addressed.” Dr Peter Bennie, Chairman of the BMA Scotland, said: “The regulation of alcohol and junk food advertising in this country is far too weak, largely because these industries have been allowed to regulate themselves. Despite the serious health harms associated with excessive alcohol consumption and obesity in the UK, these industries use marketing to promote consumption of their products. The cost of alcohol to our society is significant and inevitably, the NHS picks up the pieces. Obesity rates too are worryingly high, driven by the promotion and availability of unhealthy foods. Obesity brings with it increased risk of a wide range of serious life threatening and chronic diseases. While doctors have a role to play in supporting overweight patients, there is a limit to what they can do. The UK Government could take decisive action to change the culture of excess that the junk food and alcohol industry promotes, and tougher regulation of advertising would be a positive first step.” Barbara O’Donnell, deputy chief executive at Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Existing advertising codes fail to prevent under 18s from being exposed to alcohol advertising. Although current rules prohibit alcohol advertising around children’s programmes, alcohol adverts are allowed during early evening family viewing when the largest number of children watch television. As a result, ten to 15 year olds in the UK see more alcohol adverts on television, per hour of television watched, than adults. Indeed, a survey just published by Alcohol Focus Scotland found that 10 and 11 year olds were more familiar with alcohol brands than leading brands of biscuits, crisps and ice cream. The bottom line is that we are failing to protect children and young people from alcohol harm. More effective controls are urgently needed to ensure alcohol marketing messages only reach adult audiences.” Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the BHF, said: “Regulations for TV and online advertising in the UK are too weak, allowing companies to exploit loopholes in the system at the expense of our children’s health. Every day millions of children are being bombarded with sophisticated marketing techniques encouraging unhealthy eating habits. Evidence shows that junk food adverts can influence children’s food preferences and consumption hampering parents’ efforts to get their children to eat healthily. In the UK over 30 per cent of children are overweight or obese and dietary surveys show that children are eating too much salt, sugar and saturated fat. The Government must act now to ban junk food marketing before the 9pm watershed to help give children a stronger chance of preventing future heart disease.”

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