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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Council error stubs out smoke ban
Dax Robateau, landlord of The Smithfield pub, Stoke-on-Trent
Dax Robateau put up "Welcome to Smoke-on-Trent" posters
People are still lighting up in Stoke-on-Trent's pubs after a bureaucratic mistake over the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.

On-the-spot fines cannot yet be issued to smokers flouting the 1 July ban because of "late changes in technical bits of legislation", the council said.

Landlord Dax Robateau has put cheeky "Welcome to Smoke-on-Trent" posters in The Smithfield pub in Hanley

The authority said it would be able to issue fines from 16 July.

It said it was still able to take action against pubs or clubs where people were smoking and would be able to take retrospective action against any smokers caught flouting the ban.

'Bit miffed'

A spokesman said: "People are obliged to comply with a speeding restriction, regardless if there's a police speed gun nearby.

"The whole government advice and council advice is to advise and educate people in the early days.

"(But) they can still be reported and action can still be taken against them."

Pam Rowland, landlady of the Greyhound Inn, Penkhull
Pam Rowland is still enforcing the smoking ban in the Greyhound Inn

Mr Robateau said: "I found out about the loophole when it was in the local paper yesterday and I was just a bit miffed.

"I checked it out and found out it was true so I thought we might as well tell people that the law wasn't enforceable."

But one publican said she did not believe the council would implement the ban retrospectively.

Pam Rowland, landlady of the Greyhound Inn, in Penkhull, said: "It's sort of fun to flout the law and I don't think the council will do much about it because at the end of the day it's their mistake."

She added that she was still enforcing the ban and that most pubs were doing the same thing.

"I think most people are actually sticking with it. It could only happen in Stoke."

The council said the mistake was due to its belief that the city's elected mayor Mark Meredith had the power to delegate the authorisation of the ban to his director of community services.

It said late legal changes meant it realised too late that it would have to be enforced by the licensing and consumer protection committee instead.

It said the committee would delegate powers for officers to issue on-the-spot fines at a meeting on Monday.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Stoke allowed to smoke over a technicality



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