Saturday, 16 July 2016

Diversity of provision

Following my recent post on the vexed subject of children in pubs, I decided to run a poll on whether the pre-1988 legal regime of barring under-14s from all bar areas of pubs should be restored. The results are pretty conclusive.

Obviously this isn’t realistically going to happen, although I can imagine the childless and hard-faced Mrs May having considerable sympathy. However, it underlines the point that this remains a major issue for the pub trade, as highlighted last year by the Good Pub Guide. It just won’t wash to paint anyone who prefers a quiet drink in a child-free atmosphere as a miserable curmudgeon who pubs are better off without. Traditional pubgoers have deserted en masse to avoid noisy, badly-behaved children.

And any intolerance on the issue comes overwhelmingly from the pro-children lobby, who seem to object to children being excluded from any area of any pub at any time. As I’ve said many times (and on another issue too), what on earth is wrong with a diversity of provision?

I can’t help thinking that a good compromise solution to the smoking issue would have been to ban smoking in all areas of pubs where under-18s were admitted. This would surely have killed two birds with one stone. We could have had pubs divided into two sections – one of booze, baccy and banter, and one of food and families. Or even individual pubs devoted to one or the other. And no prizes for guessing where the best crack would have been.

It’s also worth repeating the words of Ian MacDonald in the poll comments, who is someone I know through Twitter and Facebook, but doesn’t tend to comment here. If all parents took such a considerate and responsible view, there would be no problem

As a beer drinking father of three, my children only go to pubs that serve food. I do not allow them at the bar and generally they will be in the beer garden. I would not take them to a non-food pub nor would I expect to see other children there.
And also note this from Brian, follower of Deornoth
A few years ago I would have said, "Of Course Not, it should be a matter for individual publicans and their customers." But now I know it is perfectly acceptable to have those that disagree with my preferences arrested, so I'll vote for a ban.

22 comments:

  1. Your idea of merging smoking and child-free areas is a little harsh on those of us who would quite like to have a pint without screaming children *or* a faceful of noxious fumes :)

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  2. Maybe pubs should be reorganised into little individual capsules so each drinker could have precisely the environment he or she wants without having to endure anything remotely unpleasant or triggering.

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    1. Like actually talking to people, or otherwise attempting to engage them in conversation?

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    2. Precisely. If you want to interact with people you have to take the rough with the smooth.

      The anti-smoking zealot would have to make a choice between tobacco smoke and good company, or splendid isolation and the screeching of infants.

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    3. Or put the kiddies in the smoking area? Let the little bleeders get used to it like in the good old days.

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    4. Of course, demanding people "take the rough with the smooth" is ultimately why people decide not to bother going to the pub in the first place...

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    5. Isn't that what has happened in a way; people choosing to drink at home, with or without friends? There is a question of prices but you can choose whether to smoke or watch football or a film etc.

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  3. Meanwhile, back in the real world...

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  4. This seems to be an on going bug bear I don't see in the real world. All Northern towns of my acquaintance, including the Mecca of Stockport, have food pubs with families & drink led pubs for adults with no kids present. Who is actually unable to find a pub they like?

    I don't much like pubs but even I can find one that is sort of enough of my cup of tea to potter in for a pint occasionally.

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    1. That surely is an indication of the narrowness of your pubgoing habits. And one of the biggest flashpoints is Spoons, which I get the impression you do patronise from time to time.

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    2. Sticking to pubs I like & not wasting coin in pubs I don't first requires the determination of what I like, so requires an initial reccie of many places, even if that is just having a dump and not buying an over priced pint.

      If we take your Mecca of Stockport, the reason for not eating in the Spoons is not the families. It is the sticky tables and sticky menus. The gaff is a dump. Other (nicer, cleaner) Spoons are available a short bus ride away.

      Leaving the Spoons, every pub around it is a drinkers pub without families. One or two dining pubs are around with families during the day, most are wet led. If you go as far as the Railway in Portwood, from the Spoons, walking 5 minutes & passing 5 wet led child free pubs on the way you even get a sign on the door barring children.

      There is a better choice for boozers than families and arguably there is a market to cater for families far better than they currently are.

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    3. One of the places where this conflict often occurs is my local pub, the Nursery. If you don't see it, it is, as I said, an indication of the narrowness of your pubgoing habits. Central Stockport is not the whole pub world.

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  5. CL is talking sense, and - apart from the bit about not liking pubs much - I agree with all he says.

    I agree that the poll is interesting but you are drawing a lot of conclusions from the responses of a self-selected sample who represent 0.0000000130769% of the population.

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    1. All such polls are just a talking point, Nev. But you may remember that my poll on the EU referendum was a lot more accurate than most of the professional opinion pollsters.

      And are you happy to drink in pubs surrounded by screeching infants? Really? I'm not.

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    2. You must be unlucky. Screeching infants is rare in family pubs. The exception, not the norm. But even if you are unlucky in this regard all that is required is to avoid such places.

      As a capitalist you know, as do I, the business model of catering is based on money per table. Low prices require more turnover. Macdonalds can charge £4 a meal because the table is used for 20 minutes. Restaurant charge £20 a head because you take hours over the table. High turnover is going to involve all parts of society. Spoons is cheap because they sell more burgers.

      You can afford to pay for the exclusivity of a low turnover table that does not attract families of five. Simply accept paying for it.

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  6. Modern ventilation equipment is easily capable of extracting cigarette smoke enabling both smokers and non smokers to enjoy pubs and importantly keep many viable.

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    1. The Blocked Dwarf16 July 2016 at 18:27

      Yes Lucretius, as I regularly point out to the anti-smoking zealots. If I'm in a good mood I'll usually inquire of them sweetly what vacuum cleaner they have at home....and wait for them to tell me that they have the latest bit of German Hausenkleanen-elektrikern that will filter out every allergen, pollen and virus known to respiratory science.

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  7. What do we want? More laws for other people!

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  8. I notice that nobody voted for your preferred solution, 'diversity of provision'. (Either that or a third of us did!)

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    1. Probably because I deliberately set it up as a binary poll.

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