Popular Glasgow academic launches petition to end the ‘anti-working class’ outdoor drinking byelaw in the city

The new petition aims to put pressure on Glasgow City Council to bin the outdoor drinking byelaw in time for summer
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A Glasgow Caledonian University PhD researcher has launched a petition to get rid of the Glasgow city byelaw that outlaws public drinking in the city in time for summer.

Gavin Brewis is a PhD student from Glasgow who researches ‘Neds and Ned Culture through an Oral History of Emotions’ - he began the petition earlier this week on Tuesday, March 21.

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In just two days, the petition has achieved 398 signatures on Change.org at time of writing, just 102 signatures short of its final goal of 500.

The byelaw states: ‘any person who consumes alcoholic liquor in a designated place or is found to be in possession of an open container containing alcohol in a designated place shall be guilty of an offence’.

The working-class academic elaborated on why he believes now is the time to get rid of the public drinking byelaw, he said:“I think that it is important to bin the byelaw because if this is truly a liberal country as the rulers like to suggest, then we should have that freedom of choice.

“People are struggling, and while people like to think of the worst case scenario in every occassion, it is only the case because the working class are seen as brutish and incapable of behaving well in public - even though it is the working class who do every job across every sectory of everyday life.”

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If you’re caught drinking outdoors in Glasgow by Police - you could receive a warning, three of which could land you with a fine. In some cases those enjoying a drink in the sun can be issued with a fine outright.

In the summer, hundreds of Glaswegians shirk the byelaw to drink in parks across the city - whether that be Queen’s Park, Kelvingrove Park, Bellahoustoun, the Botanic Gardens, or any of the green spaces across Glasgow. The byelaw has been frustrating Glasgow residents for 15 years now - with many pointing out that outdoor drinking is allowed in Edinburgh, our country’s capital.

In Edinburgh it is only an offence to consume alcohol outdoors if the drinker ‘fails to desist’ when asked to stop drinking by a Police officer - although outdoor drinking was banned for a short-time during lockdown in Edinburgh, which was met with much kick-back from the local community around green spaces in the capital.

Brewis explained why he believes the byelaw to affect working-class people more than the middle and upper classes of Glasgow, he said:“The byelaw is anti-working class in that it affects disproportionately the poorest in society, who cannot afford the local amenities, pubs, clubs or restaurants, and who have no gardens due to living in flats or closes.

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“This has been worsened due to the cost of living crisis, and the fact many will be struggling with food, gas, electricity and fuel costs, letalone holidays or trips to bars and restaurants.”

The outdoor drinking byelaw was passed in 2008 - banning consumption of alcohol in outdoor public places across the entirety of Glasgow.

Police approach a group in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park. Picture: SNS Group.Police approach a group in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park. Picture: SNS Group.
Police approach a group in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park. Picture: SNS Group.

Back in the summer of 2020, the council said the byelaw was unlikely to be scrapped anytime soon. A Glasgow City Council spokesman told GlasgowLive: “There are no plans to relax the bylaw. As far as I understand it, there is a complex and lengthy process that requires to be followed for a bylaw to be changed.”

A review of the outdoor drinking byelaws took place in 2018. A report on the review was presented to the Council’s City Administration Committee on October 10 2019. The Committee decided that - ‘in light of the views expressed in the Glasgow Household Survey 2018’ - the byelaws in Glasgow would remain in effect.

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Gavin Brewis isn’t the only prominent Glaswegian to challenge the byelaw, Labour MSP Paul Sweeney has long called for an end to the ‘outdated blanket ban’ - stating that anti-social behaviour laws in the city are sufficient in combating drunk and disorderly locals in our outdoor spaces.

To conclude, Gavin Brewis explained why the social context in which the outdoor drinking ban was introduced is no longer relevant to modern Glaswegian society, he said:“The drinking ban was apparently introduced to stop public drinking and the seemingly problematic behaviours that came with that. However, this was an entirely different generation, and society in general has shifted on numerous policies, and I feel this should be next to go.

“I think as stated, this is definitely aimed at the poor working classes, largely because it is those worst affected. There are less concerns from those with big gardens, who can have family and friends round for drinks and bbqs, or can afford to spend all day at a pub, whereas the poor are being told, you can’t afford to enjoy yourself, so stay at home and drink, or don’t drink at all.

“So, ultimately it is a punishment for being poor, and restricting the freedoms of those who simply wish to enjoy the sun with a couple of small drinks as they do across most other major cities in the UK, such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh!”

If you want to take a look at the petition for yourself, or sign your name in support, visit the academic’s Change.org page.

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