This week the Music Venue Trust and the Mayor of London launched two publications that highlight the myriad of challenges faced in opening and operating small, grassroots music venues. The content will be recognisable to every publican in the land and should be required reading for politicians and civil servants.
I recently counted that I’m faced with a baked bean number of 57 obligations, levies, taxes and bits of legislation imposed on me by local and national government simply to sell a pint of beer and a bag of crisps. That doesn’t include licensing requirements served up in a document that extends to over 200 pages.
Politicians love to tilt at windmills – particularly those that fan public opinion for 15 minutes. The avalanche of regulatory obligations imposed on small business is impossible to keep up with.
Smirking bureaucrats, who wouldn’t understand profit if they tripped over it are only too keen to state ‘no, it’s changed, you’re out of date’.
It’s really easy to say that you’ve ‘listened and acted’ sat in chambers or parliament when all you have to do is impose another rule on business without a care for cost or practicality.
We are all spending far too much of our hard-earned time and money attending to obligations that’s actually governmental responsibility because they can’t or won’t fund the solution themselves.
Much of the blame for this body swerve of responsibility can be laid at the feet of our compensation society.
The hospitality industry is plagued by a public perception that the slightest flaw or delay, no matter how innocent, must instantly be recovered by freebies. I don’t recall ever receiving a free glass of wine for my delayed train, a free dessert because the garage filling pump covered me in diesel or a complete refund on business rates because the local plod don’t have enough coppers.
But one missed order during a frantic pre-theatre dinner service and we’ve apparently ruined someone’s life, so we give in, take it off the bill and receive a rotten tomato one star on some idiot review site.
And this extends into governance: rubbish bags put out too soon – fined, drays delivering at the wrong time – fined, noisy smoking area – loss of licence; the hypocrisy of politicians in a mouse infested parliament enjoying subsidised alcohol way after normal hours, deciding upon food handling and licensing obligations that must be strictly adhered to by us commoners is staggering.
We need to challenge the ‘all about me’ attitude and risk averse knee-jerk policy making that is the norm in society. Maybe if we could rate councils and politicians on social media or invent a ‘rate my rating site’ web page, everyone would be a degree more circumspect because we’ve all got a business to run.