Saturday, 20 March 2010

I have in my hand a piece of paper

I had an e-mail yesterday from Mike Benner of CAMRA trumpeting CAMRA’s “fantastic campaigning success” in securing “a major package of reforms to support pubs”.

To support community pubs, the Government has announced:
  • Greater protection for pubs under threat of demolition
  • A ban on the anti-competitive practice of imposing restrictive covenants on the sale of pubs
  • Greater flexibility for pubs to diversify by adding shops and other facilities without planning permission
  • £1 million Government funding for Pub is The Hub
  • £3 million to support Community pub ownership
  • Greater freedom for pubs to host live music without a specific licence
To reform the operation of the beer tie to ensure a fair deal for tenants and consumers, the Government has announced:
  • A one year deadline to fully implement the recommendations of the BIS Report before the government intervenes with legislation if necessary
  • A guest beer right for tied tenants
  • A free of tie option for tied tenants
Forgive me for thinking this is all just pathetic fiddling while Rome burns. As long as we continue to see no amendment of the smoking ban, above-inflation duty hikes and the constant insistence that drinking two pints at a sitting will lead to an early grave, not to mention the prospect of slashing the drink-driving limit and thus rendering thousands of pubs unviable, the pub trade will remain under serious threat, and for government ministers to pose as its friend is laughable. There couldn’t be an election imminent, could there?

Face facts, despite the liberalisation of licensing hours, this has proved to be the most anti-pub government since the days of Lloyd George.

And Clive Aslet isn’t too impressed in today’s Times:

There is a tiny irony in this. Not only might it be argued that the Government itself has precipitated the closure of many pubs by making it illegal to smoke in them — a blow to the traditional boozer, where sons of toil would spend all evening, perhaps several nights a week. Without this trade, licensees have only been able to survive by reinventing their establishments as gastro pubs, serving meals at prices that few locals could afford. I shouldn’t worry; I don’t smoke. I like the fact you can get a decent meal on your travels. But now the Government is considering making it impossible to get into a car if you’ve had so much as a single pint of bitter. That means they’ll lose my custom too.


  1. I don't suppose Healey can steal Darling's thunder, but a halt to the planned duty increase in next week's budget would probably send a bigger note of cheer through the trade than this package.

    I expect he's got his tin hat ready once Darling unveils his plans...

  2. The real budget will come in June, after the election, of course.

    Prepare yourself for plenty of pain!

    This country is financially fucked, but the man in the street doesn't realise it yet.

  3. Johnson and Johnson, makers of Chantix and Nicoderm, fund the bans through their Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

    Many tax exempt political action committees (charities?) received millions to sell smoking bans from the RWJ Foundation. These bans are nothing but clever marketing strategy, with lots of highly publicized "sky is falling" hype.

    Tobacco control funding;

    And what the 99 million dollars was going to. Note on page seven the "inside -out", provision going for patios later, AFTER business owners spend thousands of dollars to build them to accommodate their smoking customers, clearly showing that the tobacco control activists have ABSOLUTLY NO CONCERN about local issues or businesses. You may need to CTRL and scoll to enlarge it.

    Prohibition is their next goal.

    And an informal description of the handbook rules.

  4. Anna Raccoon carried a great piece the other day on Healey's plans, PC. Right on the money, I thought.

  5. Only someone who is very thick would go to a pub and pay for a pint and then go and stand outside to have a cigarette.

    If smokers have to stand outside they may as well bring their own drink or better still stay home with friends to socialise in comfort.
    This is exactly what the majority of the millions of smokers are doing.

    Gives a clue why thousands of pubs are closing doesn't it ?

    This will continue until the smoking ban is amended to allow freedom of choice to the landlords.

  6. I can't work out what could be achieved by the trifling sums of money mentioned. If the three million quid to support community pub ownership goes to support communities actually buying pubs, then it would 100% fund maybe ten pubs, tops. If the level of funding is 20% (and I doubt that this would actually be enough to make a difference in many cases, so this is a best case in the number of pubs saved), then it helps 50 pubs.

    Of course, what'll actually happen with the money is that is goes towards a quango that helps no pubs.

    Also, I see no dates on any of this. Any of these that require primary legislation are effectively empty promises this close to an election. It would have been as honest (and as likely to happen) to promise free pork scratchings every Monday.

  7. Curmudgeon, without doubt this is the finest, most compassionate piece you have ever written on behalf of the British pub. Smoking apart. Your love of the British pub culture as it was, and how it has become elevates me from a mere booser.

    I come from a mere 'spit and sawdust' pub culture but appreciate the more discerning tastes of other beer drinkers and came to think of CAMRA not as 'beardy types' or 'beer snobs'but as educators of beer making and it's nuances in taste, colour, blend, alcohol content and just sheer enthusiasm for the product...this has all gone now, CAMRA has now became what I perceive to be 'establishment,' they no longer represent their 'core' members...they are a FRAUD.

    A few years ago I went to the Lakes with Mrs. Yin and a country pub was our only respite. We were lost and very happy that we had found this pub "around the corner" in a small village. They, thank god, served food, espensive but we were on holiday so WTF. This pub/hotel was 'dog friendly' and there was many of a drinker with their pooches, which was not surprising as there was a farming community all around the area. It was so 'dog friendly' that the staff behind the bar would come out with dog bisciuts for them, and bowls of water. We smoking drinkters were courteously asked to refrain from smoking during mealtimes and after our food could go into another section without smoker restrictions. What a lovely pub/hotel to be a customer in. I dread to think how smokers would be treated now in that same place, never mind the dog owners?

    This pub had it's own brewery and I took a few pics of their distillery, I will look out the pics sometime.

    I am dismayed that CAMRA neglects it's inaugural core values in favour of 'political' correctness.

  8. CAMRA couldn't give a toss about pubs as they are only interested in the beer. What they don't realise is that without pubs there would be no real ale.
    Before the smoking ban the majority of regular drinkers were smokers, but about half of those smokers are now drinking at home

  9. Here's my view on the subject...

  10. The time has come to start naming ,shaming and blaming the
    back stabbing toadies who have
    given the British Pub the kiss of death. Lets cut the crap about
    recessions,supermarkets,change of
    life style and other nonsensical
    excuses,lets point the finger at
    the Judases,the Quslings ,the lord Haw Haws. The two faced snakes who ran around with coffin lids,cancer
    stats and nicotine stained shrouds.
    Yep ,no mention of the 30(x1000)
    pieces of silver for their so
    called concern for the health of the poor.Lets name these prostitutes of deception ,these
    pitifull disciples of spite,these
    warped servants of the unseen
    corporate masters.
    Start the ball rolling with a close up on the pubco which has benefitted most with the closure of nearby independents,then a roll call of the petty organisations whose absence now calls their integrity into question.
    Dont forget a mention of the ones who stayed in the trenches,kept
    their heads down,the dried out worms who could'nt even write a letter of protest.The Publicans.
    Anyone else ?

    Payback Time

  11. If the Government cut funding for fake charities then I would believe that this is not a pre-election gimmick. Had my say in the Western Mail:

  12. I'll say this for you Mudgie, you certainly attract some "interesting" commentators.

  13. For a different view,

  14. The smoking ban? Fiddlesticks I say. When will you people stop peddling the pro smoking propaganda? It's merely distracting people from the real truth about pub closures: immigrants.

    Face the facts. There is a direct correlation between the number of immigrants and the number of pubs closing. One rises and so does the other. Coincidence? Please. That's what the pro smoking lobby what you to think. Flick away the fag ash and wake up to the truth.

  15. "This country is financially fucked, but the man in the street doesn't realize it yet" - Curmudgeon.
    Ok, unemployment has reached near 1986 levels which is terrible for those it affects. Those that have survived the rounds of redundancies will have had a reasonable time over the last
    three years with low interest rates. The real pain is yet to come. Prior to the smoking ban, I would go to pubs ~300 days a year and easily good for a tenner on each visit (that's a conservative estimate!). Pubs would only have to attract back ~1,000 of once core customers to make this £4,000,000! It's nothing! They throw our own money back at us to kid us they are fixing problems we know they created!!! It's a transparent attempt at voter pacifying.
    Pubs need less regulation and less taxation but they will get more of both in the coming years and so will their customers.

  16. Taxi driver to fight smoking ban after being fined in excess of £200 for smoking in his cab alone with the window open.


    He's on Facebook here


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