Dennis Griffiths, Miners Arms, Barnsley

Related tags Personal licence holder License

Experienced licensees and community pubs are like white rhinos - without care and compassion they will become extinct

Well the smoke's cleared, all the huff and puff is finished and, as predicted, a total smoking ban is imposed. I suppose it had to come, but I still think a smoking room or area should have been set aside.

Apart from the financial damage to the trade, I wonder how Gordon Brown will balance his books? (I just hope he and his colleagues are not enjoying a fag in the Palace of Westminster while doing the books or enjoying a drink at the bar).

So, what now to stave off the boredom? On the police front, the Barnsley licensing department have decided that a personal licence holder must be on the premises at all times - that's 12 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year for myself.

The guidelines set out in a letter by the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media & Sport) states that where no personal licence holder is physically on the premises but has authorised members of staff to make sales of alcohol during his absence, such authorisation can be oral or in writing. So what do they do? They call a Barnsley licensee back from holiday in Spain, close his pub until he gets back and send the case to the CPS who then decide to take no action?

According to the police, I can go to the supermarket or nip out for a quick meal but a holiday is out of the question unless I get all my staff personal licences (talk about more chiefs than Indians). Or I could pay a complete stranger to come and run my business using his personal licence. He could be all of 18 years old with no experience in the running of a public house and be as bent as a £4 note. That is instead of a friend or member of my family who has relieved the pub in my absence successfully for many years and knows my customers as well as I do.

The licensed trade has always worked closely with the police but this type of action can spoil a relationship that has worked well in the past. My grandmother, god bless her, used to say: "If it ain't broke don't mend it." I wish some of the ordinary people with a little power would take this common-sense route. If licensees run orderly houses with no problems and local residents are happy, what's wrong with leaving them be to run their pubs. If a licensee isn't doing his job then concentrate on making these pubs better run. Social standards must be maintained at all times and on this issue I'm 100% behind the police.

In conclusion, as I understand it the white rhino was almost extinct a few years ago but with lots of hard work and compassion their numbers have increased. How about the same treatment for the nearly-extinct experienced licensees of the country and community pubs, so they can pass them on in good order to the next generation.

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