IAN HART: Will the relaxation of Sunday trading laws impact on the country’s sense of family?

Ian Hart
Ian Hart

CHANCELLOR George Osborne has presented his post election budget, part of which contained proposals for the relaxing of the Sunday trading laws.

The Government plan is to let individual councils or elected mayors decide new opening hours in their town and cities. But how far could possibly be too far?

I’m of an age to remember not only when virtually nothing opened on a Sunday, but also a lot of places also closed on Wednesday afternoons.

Sundays were back to a lot of people – family days spent time together, granted sometimes out of necessity, but in the main out of choice.

I recently spoke to an old mate who now lives in Norway.

They have nothing open on a Sunday, as this country did in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and he felt as a result his adopted country has much more sense of family than Britain now appears to. Times and perspectives change us all.

As a young man I thought the Sunday pub opening hours were almost draconian, noon to 2pm and 7pm to 10.30pm, but did opening all day from 1995 in someway eradicate the family tradition of Sunday lunch?

As a family we do have a Sunday lunch together every so often, but not in the traditional way our parents and grandparents knew, because of life in general, work, leisure and so on.

On the flip side, Sunday trading does create jobs and prosperity for the local economy, so can I put too much of a downer on something so positive?

For example, a very good friend of mine runs one of Worthing’s most popular pubs, and he freely admits that with a good live act on a Sunday afternoon, pro-rata, it can be as good for him takings wise as both his big traditional ‘bankers’ on Friday and Saturday nights.

Sunday’s have changed whether I or others like it or not, and, as Harty junior often says: “Move with the times dad.”

So maybe that’s what I’ll have to do...

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