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Setting the record straight I didn't realise that your publication was going down the Daily Mail route of scare mongering and misinforming its...

Setting the record straight

I didn't realise that your publication was going down the Daily Mail route of scare mongering and misinforming its readership. Roger Protz' comments on the Red Lion at Kilpeck (MA, 22 February) lack any research whatsoever and draw wholly unacceptable comparisons.

Fact - Three former licensees made a satisfactory living from the pub previously. Strange how the pub was not trading when the current owners acquired it - one of those three hadn't been doing their job properly!

Fact - Village pubs are an important facility, but it is Herefordshire Council that has allowed our village shops and post offices to close by letting the big supermarkets move into our towns.

It is also they who make the prospect of altering and improving licensed premises a virtual impossibility; to quote myself as an example, I spent over £300,000

re-developing my premises, to the benefit of my village, but had my original application refused and needed the support of over 300 letters to get approval.

Fact - The pub was marketed through RTA for £425,000; £250,000 can buy you a three-bedroom house in our gorgeous county, however, in Kilpeck, you would probably expect it to be around £300,000. In addition, you have to consider the car park as a potential building plot - a plot of land has a value of between £110,000 and £135,000. Does the asking price now seem unrealistic?

Fact - Those that put their names to the opposition battle bus rarely, and in many cases never, crossed the threshold of the premises when it traded - why should that change if the pub re-opened? Bravado does not pay the bills and make a business viable. These same people have abused the current occupants verbally and in writing. Having heard and read some of their rants I would ban each and every one of them were I the landlord being forced to

re-open - they don't deserve to be admitted.

Fact - County town? Hereford? I suggest that Roger Protz does some research on county towns and cities - Hereford is a city. He cites the Barrels as a comparison to the Red Lion. The Barrels is a fantastic pub with an unquestionably brilliant collective of staff on board - Pete (Amor, licensee) has worked wonders with a pub that was once a spit-and-sawdust scrumpy house.

It is now probably in the top three most successful pubs in Herefordshire (out of almost 300 pubs). However, it is a city pub, it has a large student following and can in no way be compared to a pub based well off the main road in a village numbering some 150 houses.

One final thought: has anyone considered the stress and hardship the owners of the Red Lion have suffered so far and continue to endure? They are at a loss to know what to do next!

John Murray

A fellow Herefordshire licensee

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Get ready for test purchasing

I would urge licensees in Scotland to prepare now for test purchasing, which starts from 1 May, by putting all staff through the BIIAB Scottish Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing (SARAR), offered through a network of approved centres in Scotland, or via self study in the workplace.

The qualification provides essential knowledge and understanding of the duties of alcohol retailers engaged by a licensee to sell alcohol responsibly on their licensed premises.

The SARAR is available in two versions: one for staff involved with the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises and one for the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises. It covers the relevant elements of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 as they relate to alcohol retailers and servers.

The examination contains two compulsory questions that ensure every holder of the qualification fully understands the legislation concerning under-age sales and serving people who are drunk. There is a flexible approach to learning and the examinations are available by either paper or telephone assessment. Telephone assessment means that the candidate is able to take the examination without leaving the business premises.

Show your due diligence and commitment to responsible retailing and put your staff through the BIIAB SARAR as soon as possible. For more information visit www.biiab.org.

Cathie Smith

Director of the BIIAB

Camberley, Surrey

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