The conference, which was held in Nottingham, focused on the issue of vulnerability in the night-time economy. Voices in the pub sector and police force spoke on the matter, and awards were dished out to people in the sector.
British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin highlighted how vital it was for trade associations and the sector to work closely together, even before the pandemic. She said the BBPA worked with trade bodies UKHospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping, for instance.
“Let’s keep working together to ensure that everybody feels safe when they go out, everybody can enjoy the pub and we can still have that wonderful pub that we can call home from home,” she said.
However, she also believed the industry needed Government support as it faced the challenges of business rates and VAT, alongside the rise in living costs. She pointed out that 800 pubs did close their doors during the pandemic and “unfortunately many more are still at risk”.
Sword of Damoclese
She said: “We want to be part of the reignition of the UK economy. We want to reconnect communities and we want to regenerate towns and city centres and high streets to bring them back to life.
“We can bounce back strongly with this level of support and we can deliver for economies and be part of the levelling up agenda up and down this country but we have to be given the tools to do business.”
According to Institute of Licensing chairman Dan Davies, the two years of lockdown had been a “Sword of Damoclese” on the industry, but working in partnership was important.
In the regeneration of his hometown New Brighton, Merseyside, he saw it was important for the police, licensees, local authority and shop owners to collaborate in making sure the place was safe and vibrant.
“Good operators don’t want bad operators on the doorstep,” he said. “Make no mistake about it, it can bring a whole area down by having one bad operator on a strip.”
This view was also reflected by Craig Guildford, Nottinghamshire Police chief constable, who said that through the challenges of the Covid pandemic partnership working is what has “made a difference throughout”.
Heroes of the sector
He also highlighted the issue of drink spiking and said it was being tackled in a partnership response between the police and venues.
“I want to see more jobs in the local night-time economy and see more people coming into the towns and the city,” he said.
The National Pubwatch awards were also handed out at the conference. The National Pubwatch Award of Merit, which rewards individuals who have contributed to the success of Pubwatch schemes, was granted to Lynda Leigh, owner of the George & Dragon in Flint, Flintshire. She was credited for turning the pub around through having a zero-tolerance approach to trouble makers.
The Malcolm Eidmans award was given to Metropolitan Police chief licensing officer Ian Graham, for his partnership with the trade, and door supervisor Gareth Colley was granted a Bravery and Meritorious Conduct Award after he saved a female customer from drowning.
Furthermore, owner of the Victoria Inn, Burton, Penny Parker, and her customer Anne-Marie Greenough were each granted awards for saving a customer’s life after a cardiac arrest.
Three door supervisors – Lee Jones, Jonathan Parry and Dafydd Murray, received Bravery and Meritorious Conduct Awards for saving the life of a customer and fearlessly detaining a dangerous offender.