Hospitality debate: not Last Orders for the Pub?

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2021 by kmflett

Hospitality debate: Not Last Orders for the Pub?

I was in London in mid-December, before current restrictions started (where I live and work when life is ‘normal’) and was able to stop by some pubs which sell great beer and eat a range of substantial meals too.

The very good value noodles at the Cock Tavern E8, Beard Friendly Pub of the Year, were decent but the Honey Pie chilli pizza at the Pembury Tavern (tap of Hackney’s Five Points brewery) and the venison & mushroom pie and the fish finger sandwich at my Tottenham local, the High Cross, were superb.

Sadly I wont be eating them again anytime soon as the pubs in London after briefly re-opening have shut again, in common with pubs across the UK, many of which haven’t been fully open since the summer.

These are not big chain bars but local craft beer establishments that care about beer, food and community.

There was no coherent evidence for closing them in the autumn, although in January 2021 obviously matters are different.

It was in part the influence, no point in hiding it, of a temperance lobby in Public Health that lay behind the closures. The advice of health experts in the current crisis is invaluable and must be taken seriously. Their opinions on pubs and drink are just that. And, yes, that is only my opinion as well. I would add that drinking too much alcohol can seriously harm your health and one of the many roles of the pub is to provide a controlled social environment where drinking is supervised and limited.

Given the stop, start, dream up absurd new restrictions for pubs etc attitude that officially exists across all four UK nations perhaps its best just to keep them closed until restrictions are gone.

However if that is the decision there needs to be proper support for pub businesses and for all those whose economic livelihood is associated with them in the pub and its supply chain. Expensive? Certainly but what is the bottom line here? Cost or human life?

Much of this was echoed in the Westminster Hall debate on 11th January inspired by CAMRA, SIBA and others around the call to appoint a Hospitality Minister. MPs agreed the motion. There was only one silly contribution from Tory MP Steve Who about take away coffee, and numbers of well informed points about the impact that random restrictions on pubs and hospitality had had on jobs and local economies.

I was particularly pleased to see Cardiff South MP Stephen Doughty speaking up about Brains Dark

The Minister for Small Business Paul Scully made most of the right noises about the importance of pubs.

It’s a start but what is needed is financial support to keep pubs, central to so many communities going. That means support for the people who actually run and work in them rather than something filtered done from on high via large pub companies.

Why beyond that does it matter? Because pubs are where many people socialise, places where the community gets together, the hub of many areas for the lonely, the single, for lovers and friends.

I know some people don’t get any of that and they don’t have to, but don’t base public policy on a minority of anti-pub obsessives.

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