East Lothian Courier – 5 May 2022


I’m a book person more than a TV fan but my wife enjoys the soaps and accordingly I occasionally watch them. I was therefore intrigued when I received an e mail saying that there was to be product placement of Heineken 0% alcohol in the Woolpack and Rovers Return.

Now I don’t want to spoil anyone’s viewing but I think that’s wrong. It’s just a ruse by the alcohol producer to promote their brand. I’ve no objection to low-alcohol products and have enjoyed a few myself. But this is just a way of pushing an alcohol brand when advertising’s restricted on TV and even the watershed for children applies.

Other countries are far stricter. Many years ago, when Rangers or Celtic played a French team the Tennent’s brand required to be removed as France rejected alcohol sponsorship in sport. Norway insists that low alcohol brands are marketed with a different name from the premium product and that’s how it should be here.

We have children who won’t know their percentages, never mind what ABV stands for, but can name major alcohol brands. If the UK Government won’t act the Scottish Government should be seeking to have the powers devolved and insist that a separate name be used for the product. That, after all, was done with the drink drive limit and Scotland’s the better for it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that every law must be different across the border. Just where it makes sense, and they don’t wish to act. But there’s an area where I think Scotland should be copying the law in England and Wales.

South of the border since 2015 HGVs can travel at 50 and 60mph respectively on single and dual class carriageway A class roads. But in Scotland they’re restricted to 40 and 50 mph respectively other than on the A9 where average speed cameras were introduced. Anyone who travels on the A9 knows it’s safer now as reckless overtaking of HGVs has lessened.

It’s absurd that the speed limits lower on the A1 than not just south of the border but also the A9.