As the year kicks off it’s like waking up in a bad dream - the things we have known and trusted for so long are disintegrating before our eyes. It seems as though nothing can be relied upon, whether it’s a world-renowned bank or your local branch of Woolies. And now we wait to see what will become of the PRA.

Meanwhile the global and national shocks to the system became particularly poignant in December when the Government announced the tobacco display ban (see page 10) - despite all the extremely sensible stuff that had been laboriously compiled and presented. Was any of it actually taken on board by those making the final decision?

The aim is to stop young people from smoking. Nothing wrong with that, but is this really the answer? In a teenager’s mind does it not actually make the whole business of smoking more appealing. It also feeds right into the hands of the illicit tobacco trade. What about the rights of retailers to display perfectly legal products?

And where does it all end? What about hiding the sweets, biscuits, crisps and fizzy drinks because they’re bad for health too. And what about banning the display of socks - I once read that they were a big cause of accidents in the home as people fall over trying to put them on. I jest, but there is surely a need for people to stop being allowed to blame everyone but themselves for their problems - and that includes slipping on an obviously wet floor! Educate and open people’s eyes, yes. Take away their power of choice, no.

Talking of people with power, we are in the throes of compiling our league of top independents. If you think you are one, get in touch with us now - our contact details are on page 3.