- Campaigners fight for 'Freedom2Choose' in Liverpool
AN independent campaigning group has emerged in to fight the potentially ruinous ban on smoking in pubs.
Freedom2Choose launches tomorrow with protests across the length and breadth of Britain aimed at highlighting the crippling consequences for jobs, the leisure industry and pub goers themselves.
It will be launched at midday in the Grapes pub, Roscoe Street, Liverpool, where there is huge concern in the community at the effect of the ban.
Freedom2Choose was founded by independent businessmen and landlords alarmed that the views of the majority are being overlooked in pursuing a heavy handed, unworkable ban.
Despite calls from unelected health lobbies for an undemocratic ban on right to choose to smoke in pubs, research and evidence taken from Ireland and New York - where such restrictions exist.
But Business has fallen in licensed premises almost a third in areas where a ban exists. Other surveys show more 88 per cent of pubs and bars in New York have seen trade plummet bar a quarter. Jobs being laid off in increasing numbers,
with fears that the same could happen and More than nine out of 10 non-smokers oppose a ban.
Such evidence flies in the face of reckless claims that a ban is working in other areas and could work here.
It even goes against the habits of almost half of all pub customers, with research last year showing that 48 per cent of all punters like to smoke.
Freedom2Choose is fighting back against such claims and distributing posters and beer mats to 40,000 pubs and bars urging customers to sign a petition opposing the ban, which will be presented to Tony Blair.
Freedom2Choose founder and businessman Rod Bullough, who employs more than 40 people whose jobs are at risk from the proposals, said:-
"We are not advocating smoking, but see an outright ban as way over the top.
It would ostracise millions of people who smoke in pubs, and even their friends who do not smoke.
Far more serious is the risk such a ban would have to jobs. A growing amount of evidence is showing that the ban is hitting businesses hard.
It is reckless for the Government to consider such anti-democratic action without listening to the people who work in the industry.
Freedom2Choose is here to fight for ordinary people's right to enjoy a simple pleasure of smoking in a pub if they choose to and protect the many thousands of jobs who depend on that choice being available."
Mr Bullough added:- "If customers want to smoke in certain areas of a pub, they should be allowed to without the powers that be telling them what's good for them.
The major effect I can see such a ban having is that many regulars will stop coming here. There are more reasonable alternatives,
that benefit everyone."
ST DAVID'S MOTHERS' UNION VOLUNTEERS SCOOP PRIZE IN FIRST EVER MOTHERS' UNION SHOWCASE AWARDS
A team of volunteers from St David's Mothers' Union in Liverpool, that regularly visit local primary schools in the area to take assemblies, has won the accolade of 'Most Innovative Project' in the first ever Mothers' Union Showcase Awards which took place this week in central London.
Each term, volunteers from St David's lead an assembly working either within the school curriculum or the season of the church's year.
The MU members are also involved in the school's family fun activities. Earlier in the year when the School holidays changed, resulting in the students being at school close to Easter week, members of the Mothers' Union were invited in to help share with the students details of the Christian message of Easter.
A teacher from one of the schools supported commented:- "St David's Mothers Union has supported St David's Haigh and Aspull C of E Primary School in developing the children's spiritual, moral and cultural awareness.
The children, staff and governors greatly value the support and commitment from St David's Mothers' Union which helps to establish our strong church links and to enrich the lives of the whole school community."
The MU Showcase Awards were divided up into three categories, Most Secret, Most Innovative and Most Replicable projects, each selected to reward the projects that best serve the community by addressing real local issues and needs.
The awards, which form part of the MU's celebrations for the International Year of the Family, attracted 70 nominations from projects across the UK and Ireland, reflecting the breath and depth of the MU's work with families and communities. Ranging from a Friends for Parents scheme and clothes for premature babies, to running teenage parent support groups and 'Curry in a Hurry' - a student cook book initiative - the projects demonstrate the range of needs that MU members address. Other projects include child contact centres, parenting groups, money advice centres and women's refuges.
The winners were each presented with a cheque for £500 by Trish Heywood, MU's World Wide President, to develop their project further, and will be featured in the Winter edition of Home and Family, the charity's in-house magazine.
Vicky Paul, Head of Action and Outreach, commented:- "Most people are probably aware of the increasing level of social problems within their communities, but from Dublin to Durham, and Chichester to Glasgow, MU volunteers have actively risen to the challenge in setting up projects that will help stem the tide. Through these awards we hope not only to encourage the project designers and volunteers themselves but provide a catalyst for others to set up similar initiatives that will really make a difference in the communities in which they live."