The time for change is upon us

By David Elliott

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags All-party parliamentary beer Beer Us Government

Elliott: time for change
Elliott: time for change
Greene King Pub Partners managing director David Elliott says it is time for a change in the industry.

Who inspires you? I suppose it's different for all ages but the men of the moment seem to be doing just that.

Lewis Hamilton for the young among us, Barack Obama for all and James Bond for, I imagine, the deluded. Even our own Michael Winner — with his recent marriage engagement, recovery from illness and, more to the point, his demands for good customer service — provides something to aspire to.

What makes us want to get up in the morning and face the day? The prospect of another news headline aimed at pub bashing or the need to rise above the despair created by all around us? Knowing that we still have lots of the same fighting spirit of those hitting the headlines.

So what can we do against the multitude of attacks we face, and that's not from binge drinkers, it's the Government, police, health lobby and local authorities? Can we put them straight? Most British pubs are not the cause of alcohol-related violence, they do not contribute to binge drinking and they don't serve underage drinkers. So why, oh why, are they being tarred with the same brush?

It appears to be the easiest option. Rather than tackle the real problem, all pubs must face the same rigorous rules and legislation. The All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group recognised in their Community Pubs report that red tape and legislation is too much for the run of the mill pub, so what's the Government recommending now? Yes, even more, with MPs calling for minimum pricing to be introduced!

I accept of course that the on-trade has been hit by the extremely low pricing in supermarkets and some off-licences and selling alcohol below cost price is, in my view, irresponsible. The police must take action against business that sell to underage children and they should lose their ability to trade alcohol.

But the answer has to be in education. The Government is at pains to educate my generation on the damages of alcohol to our health, but what about mainstream schooling? I don't know, but I'm sure it's not enough.

It's great that children now have the potential effects of smoking thrust down their throats. So why not the same with alcohol? But in the meantime I suppose, we can expect more of the same. Beat up the Great British Pub and the customers who go for a pint after work. Price alcohol in supermarkets out of the reach of everyone, even those who quite like a glass of wine at home in moderation.

Finally, if we adopt a more positive attitude across the industry then we can make a difference. If you want to take anything from the American presidential election remember — "It's a new age, a time for change and undoubtedly yes we can".

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