Sound of reality sadly missing for pubs

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Noise levels, European union

In less than five years, pubs will be paying to have consultants assess noise levels in their pubs. They will have to submit risk-assessment studies...

In less than five years, pubs will be paying to have consultants assess noise levels in their pubs. They will have to submit risk-assessment studies to their local authority's licensing panel. And they will have to regularly assess ongoing noise levels in their pubs. Furthermore, they will be issuing staff with ear-protectors. And they will be arranging ear tests for their staff on an annual basis. In some cases, they may be sued because staff allege their hearing has been damaged by exposure to unlawfully loud noise in their pub. That's what happens when the European Union looks around for the next social playing field that it wants to regulate into submission to its grand egalitarian vision. That's what happens when bureaucrats decide what's good for an industry, and make no attempt to consult with that industry, or even carry out any studies to see if what they're proposing makes any sense for that industry. That's what happens when no one's looking, until it's all too late. Amazingly, things could have been even worse if the pub trade hadn't kicked up an almighty fuss about the proposed new noise directive. Significant concessions have been granted, which make noise levels and their measurement more sensible. But it's still a bit of a mess, and the pub trade is facing another significant increase in running costs when this directive is eventually implemented in the next four to five years. There's still time to inject a sense of reality into the proceedings. Interested parties in Britain have the next two years to agree a code of conduct that will govern the directive's working and implementation. This may allow pub lobbyists to explain what's possible and sensible. But don't hold out too much hope: whatever the UK comes up with has to be agreed with the European Commission, so dilution is not on the cards. No one in this country wants to damage their staff's hearing. But equally, no one has yet proved that the current system is actually doing that. As the book says, It's A Mad Mad World My Masters. Must have been talking about the pub trade.

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