Newly-appointed Small Business Minister Nigel Griffiths has pledged to champion measures to cut red tape for pub businesses, following a meeting with trade leaders.
Nick Bish, representing the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, and Kate Nicholls, spokeswoman for the trade-led Red Tape Group which campaigns for an end to beaurocracy, met Mr Griffiths to discuss pub trade concerns and to brief him on the group's work.
Ms Nicholls described the meeting as "really positive" and told thePublican.com that Mr Griffiths was "actively looking for issues and areas he could help" the trade with.
The minister asked for three measures which could be taken forward under the Regulatory Reform Act procedure, put in place by the government to tackle red tape.
Initial suggestions from the group included:
- speedy action to progress New Year's Eve and Restaurant Licensing Deregulation
- consolidation and simplification of fire safety (there are presently 70 separate pieces of legislation in this area)
- consolidation of premise permissions and the inspection and enforcement regimes which go with them
- removal of the requirement to label GM food on menus and blackboards
- abolition of the "two in a bar" rule to give smaller pubs freedom to provide live entertainment.
Mr Bish said: "We are extremely encouraged by the warm reception we received and the seriousness with which our concerns were addressed. If the Government is serious about tackling the growing problem of red tape, it must pay more attention to what Nigel Griffiths and the Small Business Service is saying."
Ms Nicholls said: "We are delighted the minister took on board some of the Red Tape Group's proposals for immediate action. We are somewhat sceptical about how easy it will be to ease the regulatory burden through the Regulatory Reform Act, and the industry's experience of deregulation is not a happy one. Nevertheless, with a strong ministerial voice on our side, we are hopeful that progress can be made."