ALCOHOLIC milkshakes have been pulled from the menu of a city diner following a campaign by a controversial Christian politician.
Ed’s Easy Diner, due to open in Inverness next week, included “Alco-Shakes” on its menu.
The £5.45 drink, which includes a measure of Rum or Baileys, is sold at all of the chain’s 37 UK outlets.
But the tipple will not now be served up at the Inverness diner after a campaign by Dr Donald Boyd, the leader of the Scottish Christian Party.
Dr Boyd, campaigning for a seat in the General Election on the platform of bringing Christian values back into public life, claimed it was against Highland tradition to serve alcohol in places where under-12s go unaccompanied.
Despite Highland Council agreeing to give the diner a licence to serve alcohol, the London HQ of the American chain backed down.
The decision has been angrily condemned by locals, one of whom claimed its showed the Highland city was living “in the dark ages”.
The 1950s-style diner offers American-themed food including burgers, hotdogs, and maple syrup waffles.
Ed’s “Alco-Shakes” are served in a 16oz glass and combine milk and ice cream with a 25ml measures of either dark rum or Baileys.
Dr Boyd was reported as telling a local newspaper that allowing the diner to let children under 12 into the licensed premises unaccompanied was a disappointing step in the wrong direction.
Dr Boyd was yesterday reluctant to talk about the issue, claiming it was “old history”.
He added: “It’s perfectly correct that we spoke about changing a recognised Highland tradition. We are pleased that common sense is prevailing.
“I’m in the middle of a campaign to get Christian values back into public life. We are raising the profile of Christian principles.”
Many locals, including Lucy Mabon, were furious. She wrote on social media: “Shame this town’s so far back in the dark ages that we’re not allowed an alcoholic milkshake. WTF?”
Jackie Lumsden hit out, writing: “Absolutely ridiculous. It’s not the people of Inverness who are concerned, it’s the Church.
“Why are the Church still running this City? Does my head in! Anything half decent that has been considered for here has been blocked by them!”
Barry Macdowell said: “The church always has the final say so. Are we living in the dark ages? Stupid question from me. Of course Inverness is!”
Spencer Fildes, chairman of the Scottish Secular Society, compared the case with Prohibition in the US.
He said: “It’s obviously a business decision but the church should not have that kind of influence in a business decision. Children are allowed to go into supermarkets and grocers and multiple other outlets where alcohol is on sale.
“The fact that legally there is no issue with this organisation selling alcohol is outrageous. It comes down to nothing more than religious bullying. This suits the church, not Inverness.
“No commercial entity should have to bend to any religious entity. To a large extent, prohibition is what they are aiming for.
“They have no legal or moral right. They haven’t been elected so they have no right to represent the people of Inverness.”
But Barbara O’Donnell, acting chief executive of the charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “It seems the company in this case has taken swift action to address local concerns.
“We need to do more to protect children and young people from alcohol harm. Children are especially vulnerable to alcohol’s toxic effects because their brains and bodies are still developing.”
Ed’s CEO, Andrew Guy, confirmed: “Whilst we would never sell alcohol to underage customers in our diner, it has come to our attention that there has been concern from some of the local people of Inverness regarding the possibility that we may inadvertently serve it to unaccompanied children under 12 years of age when alco-shakes are listed on our menu.
“We are a responsible company and listen to all feedback, and as a result we have made the decision to remove alco-shakes from our menu at our forthcoming diner in Inverness.”
A company insider later added: “They don’t want to upset anyone. They want to open up with people wanting to come, and no controversy whatsoever, so they’ve dropped it from the menu to keep the peace.”
The Convenor of the council’s licensing board, Maxine Smith, said: “I think this is the sensible way forward. We have to be careful with any type of alcohol where young people are involved. I’m sure the public will also welcome this.”