Talk of imposing outdoor smoking bans and licensing decisions that appear to defy common sense are just some of the examples in recent weeks which serve to make you wonder whether the killjoys out there are smoking something.
For an industry that is focused on providing relaxation and enjoyment, the rules and regulations that seem to fly at it on a regular basis are enough to give anyone involved high blood pressure.
The news that Hackney Council has had to shelve plans to curb late-night hours on its patch was good news (p5), but the fact it’s been shelved due to a technicality mean pubs and bars in the area are only being granted a temporary reprieve.
The council’s plan, to force new venues to close at 11pm in the week and midnight at weekends, was described as taking the borough back to the ’80s, and would have had a serious impact on the area’s night-time economy. While the consultation is shelved for now, plans are in place to reschedule it for 2016. Hopefully common sense will have prevailed by then.
While we’re talking about common sense, you’ve got to wonder where it has gone when it comes to Richmond Council as well.
Home to the famous Twickenham Stadium and with the Rugby World Cup coming to town, you’d have thought the council would be doing backflips in celebration and everything it could to ensure local businesses, and residents, get the most out of the opportunity presented.
Telling pubs that fans should not be allowed into pubs around the stadium after 10pm is baffling, short-sighted and absurd. With most rugby matches finishing about 10pm, to bar spectators from pubs on their way home seems nonsensical. Not only will it mean pubs cannot benefit from that homeward-bound trade, but confused fans will be left wandering the streets unable to either get a train home, or a beer while they wait for the queues to die down.
Richmond Council says the plan aims to minimise pressure on the transport system, but with fans left with no option but to go home, how is that going to help? Fortunately, this scheme is “voluntary” and I can’t imagine many pubs choosing to voluntarily turn away the boost offered by the World Cup, so hopefully, this will be consigned to the wastepaper basket of idiocy in Room 101.
And finally, to complete the trilogy box-set of “you couldn’t make it up” an attempt to leverage the smoking ban into pub gardens appears to have been headed off at the pass.
The Department of Health has wisely declined to consult on the proposal made by the Royal Society of Public Health to outlaw lighting up in beer gardens.
The smoking ban proved hugely challenging to pubs, but those that rose to meet the challenge invested in their gardens and outdoor spaces to continue to maintain an offer for those who wished to smoke.
To pull the plug on that would be devastating to the industry. Fortunately, common sense appears to be holding in this case, but with the Welsh Fun Police banning vaping, we need to be on our guard.