Monthly Archives: March 2010

Poppleston Allen, Guidance to Mandatory Conditions

Guidance issued in relation to Mandatory Conditions Date: 31/03/2010 Source: Poppleston Allen Author/Solicitor: James Anderson

The revised Guidance in relation to the introduction of the mandatory licensing conditions has now been issued.

The guidance relates only to the first 3 conditions which come into force at midnight on Tuesday 6th April 2010.

Frankly, there is little in it which takes us much further forward in terms of issues of interpretation: 1. Condition 1 which requires: “the responsible person to take all reasonable steps to ensure that staff… avoid irresponsible drinks promotions” remains a complex piece of drafting.

The Guidance does emphasise that a promotion is irresponsible only if it carries a: “significant risk of leading or contributing to crime and disorder and the other licensing objectives”.

It does provide some comfort in that it specifically states that “happy hours” are “not necessarily prohibited” as these are not designed to encourage individuals to drink excessively or rapidly.

In relation to the provision of unlimited or unspecified quantities of alcohol free, or for a fixed or discounted fee, the Guidance (encouragingly) recommends “a commonsense approach” and that this can be achieved “by specifying the quantity of alcohol included in the promotion”.

It therefore suggests that the condition is likely to catch deals such as “all you can drink for £10”.

Not many would disagree with that, but if it were to specify the price, then “12 pints of Bitter for £10” would seem not to contravene the condition.

Finally, in relation to discounting at sporting events, the Guidance suggests “offering free double shots for every foul committed in a football match” could be in breach of the condition, but the significant risk test as outlined above, would also apply.

Personally, I imagine that finding such an offer (every foul!) would be like looking for that mythical bar with a dentist chair!

2. In relation to that mythical “dentist chair” and the pouring of drink into the mouth of an individual, the Guidance provides “an exception… if the… individual is unable to drink without assistance due to disability”.

3. Tap water. This must be “reasonably available” for “customers” and the Guidance tells us perhaps rather obviously, that this is “a question of fact”.

It will come as a source of relief for many that the Guidance goes on to state that tap water would not be reasonably available if (wait for it) “the water supply had temporarily been lost because of a broken mains water supply”.

One is tempted to become a little bit cynical at this stage to suggest “who writes this”?

The Guidance does not shed any light on who is or who is not “a customer”. Doubtless, from the 6th April (and indeed it has already started) there will be wide differences across the country in relation to, in particular, which type of promotion is considered within the mandatory conditions and which is not.

As always, much will depend on the type of premises and any previous record of having similar promotions, without problems.

 As usual, all comments are welcome.

For more information please contact James Anderson .

Heart Attack

Heart Attack
It was a frantically busy night in the pub. The restaurant was fully booked and seated, both bars were packed, the sort of night you dream of and everything was running smoothly.

The nightmare started, one of the girls said a man has had a heart attack, and there in the most remote, inaccessible corner of the restaurant was a fairly large man struggling with an apparent heart attack. His wife was sorting out some pills and I phoned for the ambulance, he was half way through his main course. The ambulance crew arrived looked at the situation and said we have to get him on a stretcher, there were fixed tables and pews, movable tables all laden with food, drinks etc, after the initial shock and the time waiting for the ambulance everyone had resumed eating. The ambulance crew decided hat he couldn’t go out of the front door on a stretched because he was too large and there were too many doors and corners and the only way was through the kitchen, with a combined effort we got him on a stretcher and with the help of the diners passed him over their heads, then over the kitchen equipment and finally into the ambulance. The only thing that the man on the stretcher was concerned about as soon as they got him on the stretcher was not being able to finish his meal, I told him to come back when he was better and have one on me. (ALK)

Pub Catering Equipment Tips

 The Deadly Sins of  Buying Catering Equipment. Or how to avoid the most common catering problems and become more profitable, more efficient and safer at work.IntroCatering is a difficult job.The hours can be long, the working environment can be hot and pressurized, time is always in short supply and there is always something that needs doing.

Add to this that the catering environment can be dangerous unless treated with respect and you start to see catering in a whole new light.

At blueU we have a combined experience exceeding 30 years of selling equipment and in that time we have heard it all and seen a pattern in the most common tales of woe – the  deadly sins of catering.

These deadly sins are recurring problems that many caterers face and either are unaware of them or choose to ignore them but if you tackle them head on you’ll be a happier, more efficient, more profitable and above all safer cater – good for you and good for business.

So, enjoy reading our deadly sins, we hope it helps you and your business and feel free to contact us if any of it raises issues you need help with.

1 Warranties – Are they worth the paper they’re written on?

2 Clean and serviced – Looking after your investment.

3 It’s cheap for a reason – The classic case of false economy.

4 Check and Check again – Attention to detail makes all the difference.

5 Read the small print! – Every distributor has it.

6 Power struggles – Take control of your power sources.

7 Equipment installation

8 Register your product – I am not a number!


Warranties – Are they worth the paper they’re written on?

Warranties, everything seems to have one these days and even if something already has a manufacturers warranty you can bet your bottom dollar that someone somewhere will try and sell you another warranty on top – it just never ends. BUT a good warranty is worth it’s weight in gold and the benefits and support it can provide can make the difference between happy ownership or a miserable experience. 

Are all warranties the same?

Unfortunately the answer is no. Beware of companies that offer warranties that cover the bare minimum when it comes to looking after their customers and do little more than allow the products to be returned to the manufacturer for repair. This may be fine for something that costs a couple of pounds, is small or seldom used and isn’t essential but when you are spending hundreds or thousands of pounds on equipment you use to run your business it’s a different matter. Then your warranty should deliver a professional service you can rely upon and make you feel safe in the knowledge that if there is ever a problem it is dealt with professionally, on-site and as quickly as is possible.

Why are blueU warranties different?

Our warranties are different because they treat you like a professional. We don’t make excuses and slow down the whole process with needless returns to the factory, we send out highly trained warranty mechanics wherever possible who visit on-site to get the problems solved as soon as possible.

On-site repairs help you in a number of ways.

• Identification of the problem is quicker – no waiting for it to return to the factory.

• Face-to-face discussion – the engineer can help isolate any issues which may be caused by the environment or usage etc.

• Quicker problem solving.

• Less disruption to your business – no taking equipment in and out of your working        environment and none of the problems associated with moving kit around.

So next time you’re buying professional equipment don’t just look at the price on offer, take a closer look at how the product is supported and choose one with a warranty from a distributor that actually looks after you as a customer if something goes wrong. Be cautious of a distributor that advertises a product without showing a clear warranty offer. 


Clean and serviced – Looking after your investment

Just like a car, a piece of professional catering equipment functions better and lasts longer if it’s looked after; and when you are spending serious money on equipment it’s probably the quickest and easiest way for you to protect your investment. The thing is though, a lot of people merely wipe equipment down thinking ‘that’s that’ when proper cleaning and regular servicing is what’s really called for or needed.

Why should I clean and service my equipment?

Clean equipment is not just a pleasure to use (no unsightly gunk hiding in the corners – no funny smells) but it also helps ensure that there is no unseen food contamination which can lead to upset stomachs or worse – a catering nightmare well worth avoiding. It also helps ensure that your food actually tastes of your food and not something that was burnt into the equipment last week. Imagine trying to achieve the perfect Victoria Sponge in an oven that’s been dealing with smoked fish and no clean down in between! Get the picture? Ensuring that your equipment is clean also helps it stay in tip top condition and reduces the chances of erosion or parts corroding under the dirt. Kitchens are full of everyday chemicals like salt and acidic liquids like vinegars and fruit juices that can play havoc with reactive surfaces like metal worktops. Want to keep things looking good and most importantly lasting a long time? Then keep it clean. 

Servicing – isn’t it just a money making exercise?

There’s no doubt about it – servicing costs BUT it’s not a cost without real benefits and these are benefits that are worth having. Servicing on equipment from well trained technicians not only helps ensure that the investment you made in the equipment is looked after and lasts but also ensures that the equipment is running optimally and this alone helps reduce your running costs. Add to this that servicing ensures that equipment is safe to use and you can see that it’s not really money for nothing – you get peace of mind and equipment that’s as efficient and safe as the day you bought it.

HELP! I don’t know what needs servicing.

This is a common problem especially in busy catering environments where that last thing on your mind is getting a fryer or an oven serviced but one that is easily remedied. The easiest way to ensure that your equipment is serviced correctly is to register your product with the warranty card when you receive it. By doing this the manufacturer can contact you when your warranty is due to expire and advise on companies that can assist you with extended cover for the future – no fuss, no headaches. 


It’s cheap for a reason – The classic case of false economy

We all know about buying cheap stuff and how tempting it is, it’s like buying cheap chocolate. We also know that in general you get what you pay for and that if it looks too good to be true then it probably is. BUT we still fall for the “low low prices” and only when it falls apart in our hands or the doors drop off do we wish we’d spent a few more pounds on quality equipment that was up to the job. But hindsight doesn’t pay the bills and a broken piece of equipment is a headache we can all do without.

Success has a common ingredient.

It’s the same the world over and throughout all industries, the ones that succeed all have one thing in common. They invest in their processes by using equipment that keeps on going (and keeps on making money) day in day out making a solid and reliable return on the investment. Whether it’s mining equipment, a designer’s computer, a farmer’s tractor or a chef’s oven – buying reliable equipment is far more important and far more effective at making money in the long run than merely saving a few pounds on the asking price. And with reliable equipment normally comes the professional support you’d expect. Cheap equipment is cheap for a reason – you are buying a product and nothing else (apart from potential headaches).

Is blueU Cheap or Expensive?

At blueU we are very aware that price is important BUT we are equally aware that equipment that doesn’t last and doesn’t give our customer’s the reliable service they need is bad for everyone. That’s why our equipment, regardless of what it’s for will always be designed and manufactured with a long working life in mind. Sure, we do our absolute best to keep prices competitive and we always have special offers and promotions but we will never compete with the bottom of the market because that would mean selling equipment that’s not up to the job. And what’s the point in that? Some catering products are so cheap they are almost disposable, ours are not disposable but still priced well!

So why should I buy from blueU?

You don’t have to and you could save a few pounds here and there shopping about and buying bits and bobs from all over the place and then when it goes wrong or you have a problem – what do you do? At blueU we believe in supporting our customers and this doesn’t just mean selling equipment that’s up to the job. In that price we supply warranties that look after you properly like a professional, supply technical support at hand when you need it with just a single phone call, a team that helps keep everything running smoothly for you and a national network of manufacturers and service engineers at our disposal. That’s a lot of hidden extras and a lot of expertise that is worth having we’re sure you’ll agree. 

In fact, given the straight choice between good solid equipment that comes with all the professional support and backing you could need, compared to a bit of kit that’s 5% cheaper and comes with next to nothing, the choice really is a no-brainer. So, make sure the next equipment you buy doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.


Check and check again – Attention to detail makes all the difference.

It’s an all too common problem and one that affects both the top of the market in big kitchens and burger vans alike. Getting things to fit. 

More haste less speed. You may be surprised but even the most methodical minds can sometimes miss the simplest and most important of details when buying new equipment. The classic oversight is buying equipment that, whilst fitting perfectly in the space ready for it, won’t go through the door to get to the space. Sounds funny but imagine the stress and disruption and it happens far more often that you may realise but it’s the kind of mistake that you only make once. One of the best pieces of advice is when buying any equipment is to fully assess the size of it. In the words of the eternal craftsman “measure twice. cut once” in other words check and double check. Those extra five minutes of ensuring that all the dimensions are suitable helps avoid silly mistakes that can be costly both in time and money.

We can work round it!

Another common problem is buying equipment that is too big for the space it is intended for. Not too big that it won’t fit but too big that it actually gets in the way in the working environment or actually becomes a hazard. This is both bad practice when it comes to running an efficient kitchen as it makes working quickly more difficult and in some cases a health & safety issue. Neither is worth experiencing. Kitchen equipment in many cases doesn’t just have a static footprint but in the case of ovens for example they have doors that open into the workspace. Being aware of these aspects of any piece of equipment is essential when planning your working environment.

blueU and size.

OK, so we can’t be there to help you measure your doorway but we do believe in providing you with as many measurements and equipment facts as possible to help ensure that you have all the information you need to make the right decisions. Not only do we provide external dimensions for all our equipment but also internals ones where necessary. We can also provide equipment weights – handy if you’re fitting out in a weight sensitive area and online we provide a library of CAD drawings of many of our equipment for use by planners so they can create accurate plans in 3D.


Read the small print.

Buying commercial equipment from a “business to business” company does not give you the same rights as a buying for your home from a retailer.

All distributors have terms and conditions; the only difference is blueU like to tell you before you order.

  1. The majority of national distributors use third party national carriers and blueU are no exception. For insurance purposes a delivery will be made to your doorstep and generally does not include positioning the equipment in your kitchen or bar.
  2. Don’t sign for deliveries unless you are sure the products have been received in good condition. If you are in any doubt or do not have the time sign for it as “unchecked.” A third party carrier is contractually obliged to deliver the products to you in the same condition as it left the manufacturers if they damage the products in transit they will compensate the manufacturer to the value of the goods – providing you have not signed for it without identifying a potential problem. Where should the responsibility end if a customer has signed for a product as good, which they later discover, is damaged? If you do discover a product to be damaged report it immediately, a carrier will only entertain a claim if it is reported to them within 48 hours of the product being delivered.
  3. Be sure the equipment is right for you, if you feel that you need to return a product be aware that more often than not there will be a significant charge. At blueU we always try to minimise these charges but sometimes they just cannot be avoided.
  4. If you do enter into a dispute with your distributor try to work with them, very few will respond to aggression and will try to hide a myriad of terms and conditions. If you can’t resolve a dispute and still feel aggrieved ask for a copy of their terms and conditions and speak to trading standards and seek their advice. In fact if your placing an order ask for the distributors terms and conditions before you place your order which could save a huge amount of time and effort. A distributor with any integrity will issue these without question. 


Power struggles – Take control of your power sources.

Caterers of all persuasions are a pretty resourceful bunch. They can take a few ingredients and make something that can lift the spirits, remind you of childhood, entertain you, make you feel like you’ve had the best meal for a long time or simply fill a hole, but there’s one magic ingredient that they all use…POWER.

I’m a caterer not an engineer.

It doesn’t matter what type of catering you do it’s highly unlikely that it’s done without Electricity, Natural Gas or LPG and the more aware you are of the energy you use, where it enters your kitchen and how to control it the safer you’ll be. In fact it is surprising how few caterers even bother to find out how their equipment is connected. This may not sound like a big deal and you may think that it’s someone else’s job to be aware of how things are connected but knowing how to turn something off can in some cases make the difference between a small accident and a plaster on your finger and a trip to A&E.

Cutting corners – always expensive and potentially dangerous.

All working environments – especially ones like kitchens that are potentially hazardous if abused are better served when things like power outlets are clearly marked and are both clean and in good working order. Electrical sockets fizzing? It’s probably safe to say it’s not safe to use; gas pipes not fixed to the wall and allowed to wobble about? It’s an accident waiting to happen. You may be tempted to cut corners and either bodge repairs or get them done ‘by a mate’ but if there’s one thing we know is when environmental health do a spot check (and they do) they don’t like unsafe environments and they can not only insist work is carried out to spec but shut kitchens down until they’re done. So, next time you think ‘it’ll do’ just remember ‘it’ll do’ is no defence with legal compliance.

Help! I’m unsure who to contact about energy matters.

Don’t worry, finding a professional or body to help get information on energy matters is only a phone call or a mouse click away.


Equipment installation

Professional catering equipment can be a big investment, the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing installing it (and you’d be surprised how many people this happens to). Aside from it possibly making a mess of your new equipment, installation also has an important job in regards to ensuring that your safety comes first. The last thing you want is a badly installed piece of equipment that is a hazard to you or your customers. This is why it is important to get well trained people to do the work – not any old Tom, Dick or Harry.

How do I know if people are qualified to install?

Professionals who are trained to install catering equipment and connect it to mains gas and electricity MUST have been certificated by both the Gas Safe Register™ for Gas and for Electricity either the ECA ( or the (


Recently the CORGI Gas registration scheme was replaced in Great Britain and the Isle of Mann by the Gas Safe Register™ ( the new name for the gas safety certification body that sets the standard. This certification and registration body ensures that all members are fully trained to work with the type of Gas they say they can and ensures that the work they carry out follows strict guidelines to ensure compliance and safety for all. If the fitter isn’t GAS SAFE™ registered or the card they show you looks suspect DON’T TAKE THE RISK.


Electricians and electrical engineers need to be registered with either the ECA – Electrical Contractors’ Association ( or the ( As with Gas, these trade bodies ensure that their members are fully trained in dealing with all types of electrical installation and ensures that the work they carry out follows strict guidelines to ensure compliance and safety for all. Once again, if their documentation looks suspect don’t take the risk. 

How can blueU help?

At blueU we can help not only advise you on what’s a great product for your type of catering but we can also put you in touch with highly trained, reliable and professional electrical and gas engineers who are focussed on providing you with a first class service. And because they are all registered and fully trained in their fields you know that the work they undertake will be safe.

Call blueU who will then put you in touch with your local registered

and fully qualified installation company.


Registration – I am not a number!

Product registration, like the product warranty it sometimes feels like everything has a registration card and is asking for you to register it. And yet, whilst registration requests appear to be everywhere very few of us actually use them. We simply make the excuse of “I’ll do it tomorrow” and as we all know, tomorrow never comes. This is one of the most common wasted opportunities to get more out of your equipment.

So why should I register?

Good question. Registering your product (especially professional quality products) does much more than just let the manufacturer know that something of theirs has been sold. It allows them to keep in touch with you with product updates that may include safety notices, end of line information and a host of other issues that, as an owner would be in your interest to be aware of. It also means that if you have a problem with your equipment then the manufacturer is aware of who you are, the specific product you have and are able to be more focussed in dealing with you.

Doesn’t registration just mean marketing?

Not at all. Registering your product with a professional company is not about marketing. The information received from the registration process may be in part used to help better understand the market and users but registration details are primarily used to ensure records are kept of what went where and to whom allowing clear communication between the product owner and manufacturer. The Data Protection Act and well implemented data protection policies within companies are also there to ensure that the information collected is both confidential and safe and only ever used for the purposes it says it is collected for.

Helpful reminders

Another handy aspect of the registration process is the ‘reminder’. With most products servicing is not an issue but with catering equipment that uses power sources and is likely to suffer professional wear and tear regular servicing is not just a must but in many cases a legal requirement. By registering your product reminders can be emailed direct to you to help ensure that you keep your equipment in the best possible condition, safe for you and everyone else. 

So when you purchase your piece of equipment, remember fill in the form, it costs you nothing and gives you piece of mind for the future.

The Registration Check List

On delivery of your brand new piece of equipment, remember to note down

the following 4 pieces of information.

1. Date of delivery

2. Product code

3. Serial no

4. The telephone number of where you purchased your brand new piece of equipment

These 4 simple things will ease the pain if you have to register a warranty call in the future. Keep it somewhere easy to find. 

So what next?

That’s easy find a distributor that has high integrity, great customer service, and a price pledge that guarantees that if you buy a product and see it elsewhere cheaper even after two weeks will refund the difference and your home and dry, In fact why not give us a call and find out why we are generally regarded as the fastest growing distributor of equipment in the UK!

One Code of Practice for the Industry

The only way that the Codes of Practice will be truly effective is if they are totally standardised for the whole industry and prepared by a consortium of fair minded people, with no group having a dominant position and based on addressing the problems made in all the reports by the various Government bodies recommendations.

With the information published in the last two weeks, no Pub Co should be allowed to write it’s own Code of Practice, because we will have discord before we start.

If every Pub owning Company is prepared to accept this and the BII have a mandate from the BISC’s to police all companies activities and should be able to take action to fine and impose damages etc against companies breaching the Codes we might have a basis to sort the industry out.

The ultimate sanction by any company not agreeing to comply would be for the BII to recommend legislation and based on the reports, it would be draconian.

If any company considers that they are outside the reports comments then they should think again, as I said in a previous comment, if one company does not comply the whole system will be a failure and result in legislation.

I personally think legislation is the only way, since a number of companies professing support for change are paying lip service to the reports, yet are continuing to ignore the recommendations, because they have at least a year to get their acts together, these activities are short sighted and show a lack of commitment.

If legislation is the only way the Pub Co’s have only themselves to blame and will have to suffer the consequences.

The recent Reports and Document from the Pub Minister are supposed to have shaken many Pub owning Companies to the core and a number of senior people in various Pub Companies that I have talked to where singly unaware of the developments in the Industry.

This is frightening that so many people were and are so out of touch about the Select Committee Inquiry the RICS discussions etc and yet they are still trying to continue with methods and systems totally condemned by the Reports.

These recommendations are not going away they are here to stay and will be enforced one way or another.

The Government is losing revenue at an unprecedented rate and they have finally come to the realisation that manufacturing will take years to restart, the Leisure Industry is the only industry that can grow quickly if tourism is promoted, with the advantages of a weak pound.

Their Reports are to help remove the major stumbling blocks within the Industry and the time scale is short, conform or fail, it is not going away.


Government steps in on the problems for the struggling Pub Industry.(Fair Pint)


Pubs Minister John Healey today announced a 12 point action plan to give practical support to community pubs up and down the country, backed by £4million in government funding.

Nearly 40 pubs are closing each week, resulting in job losses and millions of pounds lost to the economy. Mr Healey was tasked by the Prime Minister earlier this year to look at how government intervention can help community pubs, as businesses struggle in tough economic circumstances.

New help will include £3.3 million for business support to make pubs more successful and help communities buy into struggling pubs to keep them running. Business support is also in place for struggling membership clubs, we will be slashing “beer ties”, and a consultation is underway on proposals to cut the requirement for music licences in certain venues.

Councils will also be given new powers through the planning system to intervene before a pub is demolished, giving a pause in the system for the local community to have their say. Restrictions on sales which prevent premises continuing as pubs will be also banned. The planning laws will allow pubs to branch out their business without planning permission into new commercial ventures, ranging from restaurants to gift shops and books shops, without the additional expense and time of seeking approval from the council.

The measures will give landlords the opportunity to have direct access to specialist, tailored business advice through ‘Pub is the Hub’, currently a voluntary support service for community pubs. Government funding of over £1m will ensure that the group act as a specialist first-stop shop for advice on business support and diversification. Pub is the Hub will act as a gateway to advice, supporting pubs directly or passing them on to the most appropriate service such as Business Link.  

Pubs Minister, John Healey said:


      “This package of tough, practical measures aims to put some real support behind our community pubs, giving publicans more support to diversify and punters more choice. We need and can do more to support our pubs which can be at the heart of a local community

      “Today’s measures are a much needed shot in the arm for publicans in these tough times. They will make it easier to diversify, lower costs and cut red tape when it comes to branching out. It is also a boost for local communities, giving them a greater stake in the future of their local pubs often so important in bringing people together.

      “Pubs will receive specialist business support with a direct line through ‘Pub Is the Hub’ for a wide range of business advice and help that is readily available.

Government has thrown its weight behind the recent Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee Report to relax the “beer ties” – the rules that require tenant landlords to buy beer supplies only from pub companies or “pubcos”. This will mean that landlords can buy locally sourced guest ales as well as their usual stock, to increase the range of choice for customers and support the local economy. If the industry does not fulfil its promise, Government will legislate to open up the market.

The Government is also supporting proposals for councils in the Sustainable Communities Act that will stop large pub and retail companies from imposing ‘restrictive covenants’. These can prevent the property continuing as a pub when it is sold. Proposals also include an independent review of the skills that are needed in the industry, including those in working men’s clubs. This will identify where further help can be offered and ensure the long-term viability of the sector.

The Government will also carry out three independent studies of the sector to identify where further support can be offered and to ensure the long-term viability of pubs. The first will examine the ownership and management issues facing pubs, the second will review the skills that are needed in the pub industry and will be chaired by Chris Banks, Chairman of the Learning and Skills Council. Lord Bilsten will also examine the issues affecting not-for-profit clubs, such as working men’s clubs.

Notes to editors

1.      In February 2010, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) released figures on the rate of pub closures for the last 6 months of 2009.  This is not a problem faced solely by rural communities but also urban and semi-urban communities. The figures show:

      • Pub closures now running at 39 a week, down on the 52 pubs a week closing in first half 2009
      • Total of 2,365 pubs closed in 2009
      • 24,000 jobs lost in sector in 2009

2.      In taking forward this work, Mr Healey has taken account of a range of work carried out by both government and the industry to investigate the issues faced by pubs.  The Government has taken account of the findings of both the BIS and DCMS select committees and the work of the All Party Beer and Pub group as well as holding discussions with pub companies, landlords, tenants and other groups directly involved in the pub industry.

3.      There are a number of connected factors that play a role in the closure of pubs, including the impact of the economic downturn, recent legislative changes such as smoke free legislation, and changing social habits.  However, the licensed trade also argues that rising costs have been a key factor in pub closures.  Pubs are also closing in anticipation of gaining planning permission for conversion to higher value uses such as housing.

4.      Government action can seek to provide support for community pubs where there is strong and demonstrable support to save them. Business support services will help when pubs want to diversify their offer to the local community and improve their business

5.              More details on the three elements to the package, include.

Business support

Business support gateway services

‘Pub is the Hub’ is a national advisory body who will act as a business support gateway and the first point of contact for landlords and tenants requiring access to expert business advice on a range of issues that they face

‘Pub is the Hub’ is a not for profit business support service and has visibility and credibility with the industry and a track record of supporting over 300 pub based rural services. With Government support of just over £1m over three years to underpin 7 full time advisors, Pub is the Hub can extend their support to cover all areas, providing business advice directly themselves or directing an inquiry onto the most appropriate source, whether Business Link or another agency.

Community ownership support for 50 pubs

We will contribute to a three-year pilot programme of up to fifty community owned community pubs through the Plunkett Foundation. This programme will provide direct support to local communities so they can be actively involved in the creation and maintenance of a community pub, delivering the services and benefits they want.  This programme will cost £3.3 million over 3 years to provide grant support to communities, matched by loans from third-sector organisations and a contribution from the communities themselves.  

Independent study of the pubs sector and skills plan for pubs sector

We will commission an independent study of the pubs sector to establish ownership and management patterns, reporting to Government by end of 2010.

Building on the research into licensed hospitality conducted by People1st in November 2009, we will commission a one year on follow up review of skills in community pubs. The review will be conducted in autumn 2010, and will be independently chaired.  We have asked Chris Banks, Chair of the Learning and Skills Council to lead this review.

The review will pick up skills issues arising in the BIS Select Committee report on the pub industry, and will include:

    Business management skills for freehold/leasehold/tenanted staff business particularly looking at community pubs.

  • Access to training and funding for SMEs/community pubs including the provision of bite size skills and on the job training.

Clearer messaging by the Regional Development Agencies (RDA’s)

We are working with the Regional Development Agencies to ensure that Local Action Groups and local communities are aware of the benefits of community pubs and have all the information they need to access the available funding under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

Defra and the RDAs will be publicising this widely through existing rural networks, including the RDPE National Rural Network managed by the Commission for Rural Communities.

Industry standards and consumer choice

Relaxation of licensing requirements for live music in small venues

Subject to the outcome of the ongoing consultation and with the consent of Parliament, DCMS will make a Legislative Reform Order (“LRO”) to amend the Licensing Act 2003 to make it easier for community pubs and other small venues to put on live music without the need for a licence to provide regulated entertainment.  It is currently proposed that events would be exempt if they are provided for an audience of 100 people or fewer. The new exemption will allow community pubs, which have not already done so, to diversify by providing live music to small audiences without having to apply for a costly variation of their licences.

Acceptance of the BIS Select Committee recommendations for effective operation of the BBPA Code of Practice

The BIS select committee has recently completed an in-depth review of the relationship between pub companies and their tenants, and published its follow up report. The committee recommends the industry should have one year to fully implement the Code to ensure transparency and openness in setting contracts and leases.

We will endorse the one year deadline for the industry to show it is complying with its own Code, making clear that Government will monitor progress for one year and intervene to regulate the market by putting the Code on a statutory basis backed by an industry enforcer if the industry fails to deliver.  

Seek strengthening of the industry Code of Practice.

We will push the industry further to offer freedoms for tenants to offer consumer choice as part of their Code of Practice.  The code of practice should:


      offer tenants a tie/non tie option to enable them to best reflect the needs of the community.

    • offer a guest beer option for those tenants that opt for a beer tie.

We will also make clear that Government will monitor progress for one year and intervene to introduce a non-tie option and legislate for a Beer Order to allow guest beers if these flexibilities are not introduced.

Push for the industry to regularise equipment which measures beer flow (brulines)

We will respond to the industry concerns over Brulines – these are the flow measurement devices that ensure the tie contract is being observed and that the tenant is not buying beer outside the contract. Government will make clear our view that the industry should voluntarily ensure that all such measuring equipment is calibrated by the National Weights and Measurement Laboratory with the backstop that failure to do so will result in Government prescribing the equipment to ensure fairness.

Amusement Machine Licence Duty (AMLD) review of skill with prize machines

Following recent discussions with the gambling industry regarding machines commonly referred to as ‘skill with prize’ (SWP) machines, the Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), in consultation with the Gambling Commission and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will undertake a review of Skills With Prizes machines and the games played on them for the purposes of amusement machine licence duty (AMLD).


The Review will report to Ministers in July 2010, to allow time for discussion with the gambling industry and other interested parties.

Community and local authority action

Set out flexibilities and protections available to pubs under the planning system

The Government’s Chief Planner will write to all local authorities to clearly set out the flexibilities and protections available to pubs under the planning system.  For example, the evidence shows that pubs that serve food are more successful than those that don’t and are closing at a lower rate.  The Use Class Order allows for pubs to diversify into food or to incorporate a shop without the need to apply for planning permission.  

Similarly, Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth provides policy tools for local authorities to take into account the importance of pubs to the local community when a planning application is made that would result in its loss and enables them to refuse planning permission where people’s day to day needs are not safeguarded.  

Demolition of pubs to be controlled to allow community intervention

This will give the planning authority time to consider whether it would be justified to require the owner to submit a planning application for the site ensuring the community are fully consulted.

Removal of restrictive covenants

The Ministry of Justice will consult on the removal of the right for pub owners to place covenants on the land when they sell sites to preclude the site being used for a pub in future.  This also responds to a proposal raised by local authorities under the Sustainable Communities Act. These local authorities are Newcastle Upon Tyne City Council, Ryedale District Council and Darlington Council Borough. The proposals include requests to stop large pub and retail companies from imposing restrictive covenants when they sell their property assets, if the covenant prevents the use of the property as a ‘local service’.

6. Examples of Community Pubs


Crown and Anchor Pub in Horsley, Northumberland


The pub includes a village shop, gardening club and popular takeaway service. During the recent bad weather they began a delivery service to people who couldn’t get out and about – it proved so popular they have kept it going.



The Jolly Farmer in Cookham Dean, Berkshire,

Has included a post office on site since August 2010.

The Broadway Inn in Totland Bay, Isle of Wight

Includes a village post office in its back bar and it also operates as a tea room for the tourists in the day.


Red Lion, Dittisham, near Dartmouth, Devon
Opened a village only shop and Post Office, after both closed within a year. The pub also has wi-fi access for local people and holidaymakers.


Shoulder of Mutton, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Licensees run a comprehensive retail shop which sells mostly local produce, and also other convenience groceries.

Ye Old Sun Inn, near Tadcaster, North Yorkshire

Includes a successful deli and shop that sells local produce and essential groceries

Scotts Arms, Sicklinghall, near Harrogate.  

Hosts the village post office and a shop, the only one in the village.


Black swan Village Shop, Ravenstonedale, Cumbria

Holds a pivotal role within the small remote community of Ravenstonedale and includes a shop with good disabled access that sells groceries, including local produce and some local crafts. The shop has created four new part-time jobs.

The Kings Arms Post Office, Stainton, Cumbria

The Kings Arms is the only pub in the village of Stainton located about three miles west of Penrith and includes a farm shop, the Post Office and a small hotel, providing two full-time and six part-time staff. Relocating the Post Office has saved it from closure and made it more accessible for villagers.


The Sutherland Arms, Tibberton, Shropshire.

This pub now includes the local post office and opened the grocery shop when the local shop closed down.

The Comedian, Tipton.

This pub is also a music venue but also has a craft shop jewellery. They also run classes teaching people how to make jewellery.

The Fighting Cocks, Stottesdon, Shropshire.

This pub became heart of the village when local facilities such as the shop closed down. The pub now functions as a shop and sells 85% local produce. They also plan to extend the pub’s internet connection to 12 broadband terminals to allow people to use the internet.

The George, Alstonefield, Staffordshire.

This pub has transformed an outbuilding into a village shop with help from the LA and brewery. Again it follows the closure of the village shop and supplies local produce including from the local dairy and butchers.

The Bell, Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire.

Opened a delicatessen and post office.

The Talbot, Kinghtwick, Worcester.

Opened a local shop and co-ordinate the village recycling point. They also hold the role of flood wardens for the area, important given the flooding in the area over the past couple of years.


The New Inn, Peggs Green, Coleorton, Leicestershire
The traditional pub also runs a reading club, a car club and a cycling club.  Customers can also order in from their favourite takeaway, and have it delivered to the pub, and in the summer months cook their own barbecue food in the pub garden. 


The Dykes End, Reach, Cambridgeshire

Saved in 1997 by a local action group and now owned by the local group, Reach for a Pint Ltd.  It is now the biggest employer in the village, as well as bringing benefits to local suppliers, helping the rural economy. There are 49 village shareholders, a true community pub.

Queens Head, Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire

Opened a post office opened in the Queen’s Head in Fowlmere when the village post office closed last year.

The Plough Inn, Wissett, near Halesworth, Suffolk

Opened a village shop in a converted storage shed at the back of the pub that sells essential groceries.  


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Brulines and possibly the Big Beer Keg Con???

Barrel-dregs 3

Brulines and possibly the Big Beer Keg Con???

Further to the previous article, after a number of phone calls and emails.

The reluctance to divulge any under sale of monitored beers by companies using Brulines monitoring system raises an even bigger spectre.

Assuming that Brulines equipment is accurate, as stated by Brulines and the Pub Co’s that use the system.

The companies monitor the information rigorously for the slightest signs of alleged Buying Out, they do not appear to monitor the beers that show no surplus sales, whether through convenience or laziness.

It was only after a colleague who had not bought out demanded details of the previous years data, after being accused of Buying Out realised that there was a massive under sale in certain monitored keg beers the previous year.

A number of people have emailed and phoned me protesting their innocence, have received the data eventually showing this shortfall on certain beers and invariably the same beers.

This then raises the question, if the Pub Co’s or Brulines are diligently analysing the data, why did they not advise the tenant of this shortfall?

If the system is accurate, as they claim, this information is vital to the tenant because this shortfall would reduce the Gross Profit percentage which would set bells ringing with the Inland Revenue, VAT etc.

Brulines and the Pub Co’s claim that the system is an aid to stock control etc, yet nobody is aware of this failure until they pay a fee for the data.

How many tenants have been caught in this undivulged situation?

The real spectre is that if Brulines is accurate, the only alternative cause of the problem is short measure in the kegs, you cannot overfill a keg but you can underfill as I have found to my cost.

There is no simple way of telling how much beer there is in a keg, without weighing or removing the spear, most licensees do not bother, because it represents too much trouble.

I know that one brewer had trouble with the filling machine resulting in around half a gallon being omitted from kegs and also inserting the wrong spears into kegs resulting in only part of the keg being used.

They denied that it happened and many months later admitted the failure, after a lot of tenants and managers where put under scrutiny.

It is very easy to underfill a keg by the odd pint or so, but accumulatively it can amount to many barrels.

Is this problem caused by Brulines possible inaccuracies or short measure in the kegs or both?

Certainly it is a very good reason for all Brulines data to be made available to all users at no cost, to ensure that they are not accused of Buying Out or receiving short measure in the barrels.

If this information was made available every week or fortnight to the tenants, it could well stop any Buying Out or shortfalls or is that too simple a solution.

The Pub Co’s are responsible for supplying the beers and are therefore responsible for the volumes delivered, if they have concealed this information for pecuniary advantage, it raises issues that should be referred to the Trading Standards for their consideration.

I would appreciate as much input on this subject as possible, since it is another black hole that needs filling and it could do with the maximum exposure.


Brulines and the BISC’s Report and some curious thoughts

The BISC’s Report on Brulines was pretty damning in it’s content.

The Summary on Page 23, Paragraph 69 states.

The accuracy of data from flow monitoring equipment and the analysis of that data are highly contentious issues. Flow monitoring equipment could be a helpful tool, for both companies and lessees but only if it is reliable and has the confidence of both sides. Clearly this is not the case at the moment. We recommend that the Government through the National Measurement Office, urgently clarifies the position of beer flow monitoring equipment in relation to the Weights and Measures Act 1985. Such equipment must be included under the Act for clarification and verification purposes. 

Which reading the whole section on Beer Monitoring Equipment etc, that it is not in it’s present form fit for purpose unless approved by the National Measurement Office within their strict parameters and regular inspections.

However back in the murky world of alleged Buying Out, I have had a number of lessees under pressure for supposedly buying out on Brulines data.

When they ask and eventually receive the data, it would appear that a number have a large over purchase of specific beers and a substantial short fall in the amount actually sold, the exact converse of Buying Out, this information is never divulged to the lessee or tenant.

Only when the Gnomes in Head Office sniff a possiblity of another poor sucker caught in the trap of statistically Buying Out, regardless of protestations of innocence do the figures emerge of alleged Buying Out, nothing is mentioned about the short fall in sales on other beers.

Brulines and the Pub Co’s move in and the activities are well documented in the Report, Brulines and the Pub Co’s claim that the system is foolproof and accurate and are justified in imposing fines and threats of eviction leaving the unfortunate lessee no option but to pay or become homeless and penniless.

The lessees/tenants who found that their keg purchases from the Pub Co were in excess of the recorded sales by Brulines are conveniently forgotten.

If the system is accurate surely the only way that the sales would be less than the theoretical keg volume, would be that the keg beer delivered was short in quantity, by several pints or as much as a half gallon.

I have had a considerable number of short deliveries in my pubs over the years, if the Pub Co’s and Brulines are failing to disclose this shortfall are they well aware that a possible considerable percentage of kegs are giving short measure or does this confirm that the system is inaccurate.

Either way, are the Pub Co’s going to reimburse the lessees/tenants who would appear to have been short changed by the Pub Co suppliers or accept that the system may well be at fault, you can’t have it both ways.

It is a theory which could be sadly true.


ALMR read the summary of the BISC’s Report

Welcome to the latest news and update from the ALMR. Giving you early warning of emerging issues & vital information to run your business effectively

Business, Innovation & Skills Committee Inquiry:  The Business, Skills & Innovation Committee has now published its follow up report into the relationship between pub companies and their lessees. The Report does not seek to revisit the analysis of the problems and Committee recommendations from May 2009, but does examine whether industry activity since that date is sufficient to stave off calls for the Government to intervene now to ensure a robust legislative framework and that the competition concerns are fully investigated. It concludes that “modest progress” has been made and acknowledges that self-regulation could work. Nevertheless, MPs have “grave doubts about industry’s willingness to do enough voluntarily to prevent statutory or regulatory intervention”. It warns, however, that the industry has been found wanting twice and that MPs will not fail to recommend statutory regulation should reforms not be delivered. You can read our summary of the report here.

Pub companies have until June 2011 to reform

4th March, 2010

The Business Skills and Innovation Committee (BISC) has warned that pub companies have until June 2011 to introduce major reforms or face statutory government regulation. It said it stood fully behind its recommendations from 2009 and warned the industry faced its “last opportunity for self regulated reform”. In a statement it said: “We conclude that, if real reform is not delivered, legislation to provide statutory regulation should be recommended. “The pub industry has been found wanting now on two occasions by committees of the House of Common. If it fails to deliver on its promises by June 2011, it should be in no doubt what the reaction will be.”

The report added: “We would be more confident of such an outcome if the record of the pub companies in addressing issues of legitimate concern was better than it is. “All the recommendations and conclusions in this new report should be set against this general background. We have grave doubts about the industry’s willingness to do enough voluntarily to prevent statutory or regulatory intervention.” BISC said it welcomed the progress being made by RICS to address the shortcomings of its existing guidance on valuations. However it concluded that: “The acid test of its success will be the extent to which the new guidance provides clarity on valuations and the principle that a tied tenant should be no worse off than a free of tie tenant.” The report also concluded that the BBPA Framework Code of Practice “appears to be a modest step in the right direction” and that it expected the major pub companies to “treat it as an absolute de-minimus requirement and to significantly build on it with their own Codes”.

Peter Luff, the MP who chairs BISC, said he believed pub companies were on probation and had “absolutely” not been let off the hook. He told the Morning Advertiser: “If the pubcos think think they have got off then they are in for a rude awakening. Luff added: “The Competition Commission inquiry might find in favour of the current system and take four years. “We could have been heroes and said it is all rubbish and refer it to the Competition Commission — that would have been great for my image. “But I didn’t think that would have made a real difference.” Following the publication of the updated BISC report the British Beer and Pub Association BBPA said it was determined to address the issues raised head on.

The industry body said: “Companies will apply both the letter and spirit of that code in their own individual company codes within the next few months. This will deliver greater transparency to prospective tenants and lessees, more information, training and a low cost independent rent review panel for existing tenants and lessees. These are the essential building blocks for a new and constructive relationship. “We invite wider industry groups to positively engage with, and work in partnership on, this programme for change and improvement.” The organisation added it would be prepared to meet with BISC again at any stage to discuss the progress of self-regulation. Separately the Morning Advertiser, the trade newspaper and sister title of M&C Report, has revealed that the Liberal Democrats would “radically reform” the beer tie.

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats’ licensing spokesman, said the tie seemed “one sided” and “out of control”. The Independent Pubs Confederation (IPC) welcomed the updated report into pub companies saying it was “right and proper” its earlier recommendations remain on the table. Kate Nicholls, the IPC’s secretary, said: “There is a clear direction that they must be addressed in full before the threat of a Competition Commission investigation can be lifted. “This chimes exactly with the evidence presented by the IPC to the Committee and justifies our assertion that the Framework and RICS actions are insufficient in and of themselves.” She added the IPC believed that the BBPA framework left three-quarters of the Committee’s recommendations unaddressed. “We would urge them to work with us now to tackle the outstanding issues,” added Nicholls. “Only then can we step away from our call for the government to intervene to ensure a robust legislative and regulatory framework to deliver the free and fair market we demand.” The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) also welcomed the report and added it wanted the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to “look more carefully” at the issues involved as it responds to its super complaint for a second time. Simon French, a leading City analyst with Panmure Gordon, this morning said he believed shares of the two major pub companies would respond positively following yesterday’s putting on hold the threat of legislation.

He said: “We believe the share prices of Enterprise Inns and Punch taverns will respond positively today given the risk of immediate government intervention has receded. “However we would recommend selling into strength given the ongoing regulatory risk from the re-opened OFT investigation into the beer tie and the Eu block exemption renewal.” Reiterating a sell recommendation of Punch and ETI he said tenants still faced operational headwinds including, “the consequential impact on their cash flows and the corresponding pressure on pubco finances. In particular, we believe that the imminent rise in beer duty, rising RPI-linked rents, beer price increases and a possible further increase in VAT pose substantial risks to tenant profitability.” Geoff Collyer, of Deustche Bank, said he believed that the regulatory cloud over the industry should be lifted, “hopefully for good”. Despite predicting further anti-pub company criticism and irritation of the main companies involved he added: “We hope that from here the industry will be allowed to get back to the day job of recession and supporting worthwhile licensees.”

Live Sports: the Government has been consulting on the broadcast of live sports and the retention of a protected list of events which should remain freely available and free of charge via terrestrial channels. You can read our response to the consultation here.

Alcohol Code: the ALMR has continued to lobby on the Government’s Code of Practice on Responsible Retailing. The regulations introducing the Code were debated by a Committee of MPs and Peers last week, with Opposition Spokesmen expressing concern about the implications for normal price promotions. You can download a copy of our submission to the Tories on the Code and the proposed ban on alcohol sales between 3am and 6am.

For news and information visit our website 10 March 2010


Kate Nicholls
Head of Communications 

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

9B Walpole Court, Ealing Studios, London, W5 5ED
Tel:               020 8579 2080         020 8579 2080 or fax: 020 8579 7579

Ice Cream

 I don’t normally allow a commercial type editorial, but I have used Movenpick for years and I have always found it to be commercially consistent and superb quality at all times, the failure of many food establishments is the quality of their ice cream when added to good sweet, it is totally unnecessary.

Mövenpick Ice Cream A Super-Premium Proposition


The award-winning Swiss manufacturer, Mövenpick Ice Cream, is renowned within the out of home industry for its super premium range of ice-creams.  The brand’s product portfolio takes its inspiration from a revolutionary vision of culinary excellence that swept through Swiss restaurants in the 1960’s.  Mövenpick Ice Cream uses natural ingredients including Classic Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar and Caramel pieces hand-crafted in Switzerland.

Mike Godwin, Managing Director, Mövenpick Ice Cream, explains how to make the most of the ice-cream opportunity all year-round.

“At Mövenpick Ice Cream, we offer a wide range of Super Premium flavours for every season.  As Spring approaches, the OOH market will be serving up fruit-flavoured ice-creams such as Mövenpick Strawberry, Rhubarb or Banana, to revive customers.  These refreshing flavours can be served as a standalone dessert option or to accompany tarts or cakes.  For Summer, our Vanilla Dream and Panna Cotta Raspberry are set to prove popular for publicans and their customers.” 

“Creating bespoke menu concepts that work for our customers has been the driving force of the business to date and is important to attract sales.  By providing consumers with an indulgent ice-cream option such as Mövenpick, publicans are adding quality and differentiation to their menu.  Customers can also take full advantage of the support Mövenpick offers in terms of glassware, menus and refrigeration.”

Mövenpick ice-cream is available through leading frozen food wholesalers nationwide.  For further information call 01483 205500 or visit


The IPC response to the BISC Report on Pubcos

The IPC responding to the publication of the BISC Report on Pubcos said:

“we welcome the Committee’s report and its recognition that too little has been done too late to merit a clean bill of health. It is only right and proper that the committee’s earlier report and recommendations remain on the table and that there is a clear direction that they must be addressed in full before the threat of a Competition Commission investigation can be lifted. This chimes exactly with the evidence presented by the IPC to the Committee and justifies our assertion that the Framework and RICS actions are insufficient in and of themselves. The BBPA’s Framework left three-quarters of the Committee’s recommendations unaddressed and we would urge them to work with us now to tackle the outstanding issues. Only then can we step away from our call for the government to intervene to ensure a robust legislative and regulatory framework to deliver the free and fair market we demand.”

Kate Nicholls
Head of Communications 

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

9B Walpole Court, Ealing Studios, London, W5 5ED
Tel:               020 8579 2080         020 8579 2080 or fax: 020 8579 7579