Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Paul defends the WSTA

Published:  23 July, 2008

Western Wines MD and Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) board member Mike Paul has defended the association against accusations that it has lost its way in the wake of its protracted hunt for a new chief executive.

In a letter to Harpers, Paul, the former head of pressure group the Wine Trade Action Group (WTAG), welcomed the appointment of new chief executive Jeremy Beadles, who, Paul said, joins the association after a period of change. However, anyone who has been involved with the association over the past few months will testify to the hard work being done to maintain and improve relationships with our members, other associations in the trade, parliamentarians, ministers and cross-departmental civil servants at all levels.'

Contrary to the claims made by a senior trade figure close to the WSTA in Harpers last week, Paul said the association has taken a leading role on the parliamentary and departmental lobbying that has gone on in regards to the implementation of the Licensing Act. Much lobbying work is being done, both in Parliament and with civil servants and ministers, on the alcohol-related provisions in the Violent Crime Reduction Bill. We are also taking a lead role, along with the British Beer and Pub Association and the Scotch Whisky Association, in the development of "Social Responsibility Standards", part of our work to tackle underage sales and alcohol-related disorder.'

Paul added that the association was also active on technical and international matters', such as the implementation of strip stamps. He also stressed that a high-level Budget Working Group is developing a medium-term strategy for wine, designed to have an impact from 2007' and is developing much closer relationships with Treasury officials than have been achieved previously'.

Paul's comments will provide a much-needed fillip for Beadles, who faces a challenging time in his first few months in the post. WTAG, which was set up in response to the perceived weakness of wine-trade influence in the WSTA, is still in existence, despite the recent restructuring of the WSTA to include greater wine-trade participation. According to new WTAG chairman Jerry Lockspeiser, WTAG members will be watching the WSTA closely. We fully support the "revitalised" WSTA, and we'll monitor its effectiveness over the next 12 months to see how adequately it represents the needs of its members,' Lockspeiser told Harpers when he was appointed in September. The WSTA also represents spirits, so, as a group, we felt it was probably still necessary to have a wine-centred grouping. But if we feel in the future that we are no longer needed, then we may decide to disband.'