Matt Eley: 'Society of Licensees should be a positive force'

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Licensees, Form of the good

'Great' I thought, slightly underwhelmed, 'yet another trade body to add to our industry's already impressive array of acronyms'. I mean with the...

'Great' I thought, slightly underwhelmed, 'yet another trade body to add to our industry's already impressive array of acronyms'.

I mean with the BBPA, BII, ALMR, BII, FLVA and the GMV, to name just a few, it's already a fairly crowded and confusing arena.

This large number of trade groups presents several problems. Firstly, licensees don't really know who they should turn to when it comes to the need for help and representation. Secondly, messages from the various groups can be contradictory and easy for the government of the day to bat away to the covers.

However, further inspection of the aims of the Society of Licensees has filled me with hope that it can develop into a force for good for the pub trade.

Top of the list is that it has been set up by, and is clearly for, licensees. This may sound obvious but many of the other groups have either mixed membership or are run by men in suits rather than those working at the coalface.

Of course this is not to dismiss the professional expertise they bring to those roles, but perhaps it makes it more difficult to project the 'genuine voice of the licensee'.

And this is a clear aim of the Society of Licensees.

The next thing that really won me over was that the group's founders are focused on putting out positive messages about the industry.

The members do not want to get bogged down in draining internal disputes that do nothing to promote the industry to the wider world. Instead, the society exists to support well-run pubs and to 'correct misrepresentations about alcohol in the public domain'.

The simple message being that pubs are fantastic places and we should shout about it from the rooftops.

And it's true. Pubs are not the hubs of hell that certain parts of the media and medical professions would have the wider world believe. So it is time to fight back. No longer should we be apologists for societal problems. Pubs need to go on the front foot and shout about all of the good things they bring to this country.

The list is endless, but a good starting point would be the vast numbers of people pubs employ, the money raised for charity and the fact tourists always put pubs high on their list of places to visit.

This is not to mention that pubs are one of the last bastions of community in a world increasingly dominated by home entertainment, takeaways and cheap off-trade booze.

So even in a sector dominated by trade groups, how can we not welcome the Society of Licensees and its aims?

Here's hoping it is well received and that those other groups can all sing from the same hymn sheet in helping get that message across.

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