Friday, 19 September 2008

Pub told traditional sign 'encourages drink driving'

Landlords Trisha and Thomas Russell were told to remove their public house sign, which shows an arrow beneath the words: 'The Black Dog, Chilmark, Bar and Restaurant' as it was deemed distracting to motorists. The sign, the size of a sandwich board, was erected two decades ago, as the pub is located away from the main A303 road. The couple, who took over the tenancy four weeks ago were surprised to hear they needed planning permission for the sign and were then shocked to receive an objection from the Highways Agency for their application. A letter from the agency read: "The sign contains several lines of text and is therefore distracting to motorists. "It is also advertising the use of a public house to motorists, potentially providing the temptation to drink and drive while using a long distance trunk route. "No alcohol is allowed to be served or consumed in service stations on motorways as a matter of principle. "We would wish to continue this principle by not encouraging drivers to break their journey in a public house." Mrs Russell, 41, said the objection was ridiculous and the pub in Chilmark, Wiltshire, also serves a range of soft drinks and meals. She believes removal of the sign could lead to a dramatic drop in customers. "Motorists who come in only use the toilet and have a sandwich alongside a glass of lemonade," she said. "We get a lot of our business from the sign and without it I worry that our customer numbers will fall considerably. "We came here from another pub and have never experienced anything as daft as this, " she added. A spokesman for the Highways Agency said the letter could be "misconstrued" and there was no implication that signs of public houses would lead to an increase in drink driving. "The decision to drink drive is a personal one and not directly the responsibility of the publican or the business." A spokeswoman for West Wiltshire District Council said the planning application was still under-review and that a decision had not yet been made.

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