As we know, Labour's health and safety fascists have pretty well done for the traditional British boozer. The smoking ban was the final straw for an industry already under the cosh, and an estimated 20,000 of Britain's 56,000 pubs are heading into the overflowing ashtray of history.
Now, elements of the elite Special Projects H&S Gestapo have turned their attention to the British chippy. Sodium enforcement officers from several local councils have toured chippies up North replacing traditional 17-hole salt shakers with a new 5 hole lo-salt version. All at taxpayers' expense:
"Leading the way has been Gateshead Council, which spent 15 days researching the subject of salty takeaways before declaring the new five-hole cellars the solution.
Officers collected information from businesses, obtained samples of fish and chips, measured salt content and ‘carried out experiments to determine how the problem of excessive salt being dispensed could be overcome by design’.
They decided that the five-hole pots would reduce the amount of salt being used by more than 60 per cent yet give a ‘visually acceptable sprinkling’ that would satisfy the customer.
The council commissioned Drywite Ltd – a catering equipment company – to make five-hole shakers and bought 1,000 of them at a cost of £2,000, giving them away to fast-food outlets in their areas."
Duh? you say. Duh?
Ah well, it's for our own good, you see. Yes it's cost us £2 grand, plus another shall we say £1m for officers' time and assorted knock-ons, but it's going to save us an absolute packet. According to the sinister Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services:
‘Heart disease costs taxpayers £7 billion a year so to say that projects such as this are a waste of money is mind-boggling.’
Except... even setting aside the fact that customers will simply demand more shaking time over their chips, as BOM readers will know, these official estimates of "health costs" are never ever worth the chip-paper they're printed on. F'rinstance, the official figures touted on the cost of our "obesity epidemic" range from £1bn up to £45bn, depending on precisely whose backside they're being pulled out of (eg see this blog).
Heart disease? A quick Google reveals NHS cost estimates ranging from £7bn pa (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) to £16bn (Health Economics Research Centre) to £3.5bn (Heart). In short, nobody has the foggiest idea.
So remind me - why can't local councils just collect our rubbish and keep our streets clean? Like they used to.
PS Lest we spread too much alarm and despondency, let's note that not all pubs will disappear. Many are gastrointestinalising themselves (and often their customers as well), while others are going Islamic. The Halal Inn opened last December in Oldham, and offers all the traditional pub services. Well, all except booze and pork pies, obviously.