SMOKING has now been banned in public places for six months – and pubs across Chester still have mixed feelings about it.
Some pubs in the city blamed the ban for a loss in trade – but others, like the Pied Pull in Northgate Street, haven’t looked back.
Carl Scourfield, licensee of the Pied Bull, insists the ban has been good for business and it has made the pub a nicer place to work.
He said: “We get more families coming in now and we have put on more diverse events, like jazz nights, karaoke and quizzes.
“We even had Christmas lunch this year which would have been unthinkable with a pub full of smokers. If we had a choice now we would keep it as it is.”
Recent research from CAMRA suggested as many as 26 pubs are closing down each month across the UK and this affects both rural and urban areas.
But it is not possible to say if this was caused by the smoking ban because licensees say the availability of cheap alcohol in the supermarkets and the increasing cost of business rates.
But Frank Marnell of the Watergate Inn, chairman of Chester Pubwatch, said the ban has had a massive impact.
He said: “85% of my customers smoke and if it is too cold to go outside they are staying at home until later in the evening.
“People are in and out a lot more and this makes it difficult for us to keep heat in for other customers.
“The ban caused a lot of problems for pubs on The Rows and whoever owns The Rows should be doing something about it.
“I feel sorry for the shops because people leave cigarette butts onto the pavement, but if pubs were allowed to put ash bins outside, their customers would use them.”
Frank said licensees in Scotland are “up in arms” over the smoking ban and want to try and overturn it but has little hope of the same thing happening here.
He added licensees would rather have a choice on whether or not to be smoke free and provide smoking rooms, something Andrew Aspden, landlord of The Boot Inn on The Rows agrees with.
Andrew said: “I have had a lot of problems because of the smoking ban and one of my staff even had a cigarette flicked into her face when she asked someone to move on to the street.”
Pubwatch members delivered a petition containing 500 signatures to the council in September last year but have yet to receive a response.
A spokesman for Chester City Council said as far as they are aware no petition had been received but would look into the matter.
He also confirmed that street cleaners do have an increased workload because of increased cigarette litter, especially outside pubs, but they are dealing with it within the existing budget.