Monthly Archives: March 2011

Barrel Dregs, How trustworthy is your Energy Provider? (173)

 Energy Providers to Pubs/Restaurants

Times would appear to have changed, very much for the worse.

My Father worked, for what is now British Gas, for all his working life, he would have turned in his grave if he hadn’t been cremated, at the totally legal activities of his much revered old company.

In his day the customer was paramount and strangely they had a monopoly of supply, which they do not have now, but their methods now ensure that leaving them is not the most simple process for a layman, unless you have a company looking after your interests, which costs you nothing, this is not a commercial but a statement of fact.

You can do it, but you need every trick in the book legally and otherwise, these are the Pub Co’s of the Energy Business, backed by very expensive lawyers, barristers and anything else that they choose to use to keep you nailed to their supply tie, customer service is in the small print somewhere.

The latest lamb to the Energy Slaughter, received a gas bill from BG for March 2011 and queried why his rate had been increased by just a shade under 40%, also the standing charge by 1700%.

BG informed him that they sent a letter in October 2010 and again in November 2010 notifying him that his contract was due for renewal in February 2011 and because he failed to respond he was now committed to these increases for another 12 months and that there is nothing he can do, perfectly legal and cast iron water tight or gas tight anyway.

He has absolutely no record or recollection of any letter or notification from BG and if he had, he would have jumped through hoops to find out why and certainly would have changed his supplier in double quick time.

BG refused to negotiate or discuss any possibility that there correspondence may not have existed or been misdirected, there is no arbitration or mediation he is legally stuck with it.

Surely for these companies to be squeaky clean and above board, they should send a recorded delivery letter to commercial property advising them once a year.

Our learned Lamb has been a commercial customer of BG for 12 years, does that relationship count for nothing, BG’s record on customer relationship has enjoyed some very distinctive publicity over the past few years.

They can’t do this with domestic supplies but they have free reign on commercial supplies, the country is desperately trying to generate successful businesses in very tough times, it doesn’t need large Energy Companies leeching hard earned profits from small businesses to be fed to multi-national conglomerates who exploit loyalty, complacency or ignorance in their customers, in pursuit of greed.

Some companies are trying to work together, but there are far too many Energy Companies who consider customers ignorance or complacency as fair game to be exploited perfectly legally.

It would appear that one brave lady took on one of these Energy Giants on the legality of what they were and are enforcing, it cost her £10,000 in legal fees, the company involved said they would take the initial decision to appeal, far beyond the lady’s means and she was forced to withdraw, this is not justice, this is he who has most wins.

I like the lady took a substantial body to the small claims court for negligence, after good legal advice, the judge was about to award in our favour and the barrister representing the organization said they would take it to appeal because, because the body could not be seen to be failing or negligent. The judge advised us to withdraw because the High Court would cost at least £50K for a few thousand in the small claims claims court, which we did and were given a bill for £8,500 for withdrawing.

Sadly these energy companies like Pub Co’s know this and would appear to be exploiting the financial weakness of the small businessman.

My friendly legal eagle stated categorically that extending and changing a contract without the agreement of both parties is not valid, this abuse is not used on domestic property why should they get away with it if our information is correct on commercial property.

My brother in law has been told exactly the same story he has absolutely no record of any correspondence from his energy supplier advising him of any change, until the bills started arriving, he has always been concerned at the cost of his energy in a very small business premises, far in excess of some other premises that he has.

Please raise this with your local MP and refer him to this article, things are very tough at the moment, it doesn’t need greedy companies exploiting a so called legal loophole in energy supplies.

Gaz Tricity

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.

Alliance Online Catering Equipment – suppliers of Pub and Bar Equipment to the Licensed Industry

Agonies of the Pub Lessee

Pub Co Licensees

This category is for any licensee to comment on their situation, in the hope that it will steer others away from the same problems or just feel that they can get their thoughts heard.

Regrettably, please do not use swear words, offensive language or defamatory statements, though we can fully understand the extreme desire to use forceful expletives, Google and the Search Engines will blank us out and we will not achieve the end result.

Be objective in your comments, there may be someone that can assist or we might be able to offer advice, exposing the dubious activities is the aim and creating a feeling that you are not alone.

By all means use a nom de plume or your real name.

Poppleston Allen, is a Licensee responsible for a Drink Driver?

Drink Driving and the possible Responsibilities by the supplier of the Alcohol.

The concept of responsibility of the licensee or indeed pub owner when a customer drink drives has always been an interesting one. Could a member of bar staff, Designated Premises Supervisor or indeed pub owner be held responsible, especially where it had been quite clear that the customer was intending to drive, yet they had nonetheless been served with a significant quantity of alcohol? 

Issues of civil liability obviously arise in terms of a duty of care but also criminal responsibility. Could anyone be aiding or abetting the commission of a criminal offence? 

This particular decision in Ireland seems to suggest that that would be a step too far. John Connelly of Kinlough County Leitrim drove after being served 6 pints in the Diamond Bar in Tullaghan. It was claimed in the Irish High Court that the owners of the premises, Seamus and Concepta Kelly, owed a duty of care to Connelly and had acted negligently in serving him the drinks knowing that he would drive. 

He was involved in an accident and died together with the female driver of another vehicle. A second woman was seriously injured and settled a damages case against his estate for €275,000. The estate endeavoured to recover some of the money from the owners of the bar claiming the duty of care. 

The Judge in the Irish High Court came to the conclusion that ‘the duty of care being suggested could include an obligation on publicans to restrain, assault or even imprison those they believe to be unfit to drive. That would result in publicans committing a criminal act and is not something any Court could contemplate’. 

The decision is not directly binding on this jurisdiction and indeed each case would undoubtedly be decided on its own facts but the decision is worthy of note nonetheless. 

For more information please contact Graeme Cushion


The concept of responsibility of the licensee or indeed pub owner when a customer drink drives has always been an interesting one. Could a member of bar staff, Designated Premises Supervisor or indeed pub owner be held responsible, especially where it had been quite clear that the customer was intending to drive, yet they had nonetheless been served with a significant quantity of alcohol? 

Issues of civil liability obviously arise in terms of a duty of care but also criminal responsibility. Could anyone be aiding or abetting the commission of a criminal offence? 

This particular decision in Ireland seems to suggest that that would be a step too far. John Connelly of Kinlough County Leitrim drove after being served 6 pints in the Diamond Bar in Tullaghan. It was claimed in the Irish High Court that the owners of the premises, Seamus and Concepta Kelly, owed a duty of care to Connelly and had acted negligently in serving him the drinks knowing that he would drive. 

He was involved in an accident and died together with the female driver of another vehicle. A second woman was seriously injured and settled a damages case against his estate for €275,000. The estate endeavoured to recover some of the money from the owners of the bar claiming the duty of care. 

The Judge in the Irish High Court came to the conclusion that ‘the duty of care being suggested could include an obligation on publicans to restrain, assault or even imprison those they believe to be unfit to drive. That would result in publicans committing a criminal act and is not something any Court could contemplate’. 

The decision is not directly binding on this jurisdiction and indeed each case would undoubtedly be decided on its own facts but the decision is worthy of note nonetheless. 

For more information please contact Graeme Cushion .

  • Date: 15/03/2011
  • Author/Solicitor: Andrew Grimsey

 


The Government has issued a Consultation Paper asking for views on its proposals to regulate advertising and street trading in open spaces in the vicinity of venues hosting the Olympics and Para Olympic Games in 2012. The stated purpose of these Regulations is to ensure the Olympics have a consistent ‘celebratory’ look and feel; to prevent ambush marketing within the vicinity of the venues, and to ensure people can easily access the venues. So far as street trading goes, operators with Street Trading Licences granted by the relevant Local Authority will need to be authorised both under their existing Pavement Licence and the proposed Olympic Delivery Authority Licence. If you have your tables and chairs on private land then an exemption may apply. The restrictions are proposed to be time limited to the period of the Games, and will only apply to areas in and outside London where events will be taking place. 

These proposals may well affect some operators of licensed venues. 

The Consultation closes on 30 May 2011 and the Consultation document can be read herehttp://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/ConDoc_Regulations_on_Advertising_and_Trading_London_2012-section1-7.pdf 

For more information please contact Andrew Grimsey.

Barrel-Dregs, PIRRS in Perspective or the Cold Light of Day. (172)

PIRRS IN PERSPECTIVE

A sad but all to familiar tale reaches the Pot Boy snug as to how the innocent Tenant can be so easily mugged by the heavily Enterprise Inns promoted PIRRS scheme of dispute resolution. The scene is set with shall we say Tenant X in the middle of his PIRRS referral. Pot Boy got wind of the mess direct from a conversation with the early doors crowd filling the snug. The facts are current and ongoing as you read this piece.Tenant X falls out massively with his Business Partner Enterprise Inns who want to increase his rent by 30%.He goes and takes advice from the BII having had the PIRRS system heavily trailed by Enterprise Inns. Yes, its a cheap and reliable system the BII tell him. They dreamed it up and its out there for all to use.

Oh, they forgot to say that in addition to the fixed application fee paid in advance to kick start the process, he would have to have a Deed of Variation, so that added another £1000 of legal fees to the overall cost. Never mind things proceed and for some reason Tenant X thought that he would be personally putting his case against “the man from Enterprise” having signed the Deed of Variation. After all,the negotiations have alll been with his BRM who has been calling all the shots. Would be logical to have the same negotiations in front ot the PIRRS expert. Now wouldn’t that be logical and fair. Sane people, just someone independent to judge who is right. From there on in, things go astray !!

The process starts and low and behold, Enterprise wheel in a Chartered Surveyor from a National Company. There is no “man from Enterprise” to do battle against at all. There is a total imbalance of skills, professional tweakery and knowlege of the latest RICS regulations which our Tenant X has not even heard of. But no matter, the PIRRS expert who decides the rent, is supposed to have that insight if Tenant X cares to put the regs forward, which of course he can’t !! Guess what, Rob May (for it is he !) has now quietly slipped away into the darkness followed with some haste by the BRM. The trace of Mr May’s presence is now only felt in the influence he undoubtably might have over his hired gun. So,lets just pause a moment to take stock of who Rob May has hired and why.

To start with our Mr May, National Rent Controller of Enterprise Inns and the ultimate hirer and firer, will not have paid for (at say over £200 per hour) someone who will tell him that he is tuppence short of the proverbial Pub Co Shilling and has got it totally wrong. Dear me no !!  Also the Surveyor will be mindfull of getting further lucrative instructions from the same source (it seems that with this tale, the man concerned has had quite a large number so far) and might be minded not to be inconsistant with other Enterprise Inns rent settlements or new lettings that might be going through the system. Nothing basically wrong with that is there, that is if you start off with the proper level of trade on which the rent is based. Enterprise Inns are naturally now remote from the PIRRS dispute and the Surveyor is preserving his total independence. As you do !!

This so called “Independent Professional” fesses up in a (taped) conversation with Tenant X, the level of trade on which he thinks the rent should be assessed. This then completely changes, within only a matter of days spectacularly upwards par natch, and is infused into  the written statements which go in, with an eye watering level of assumed trade that in anyones wildest dreams just cannot exist. (Surely Enterprise could not have possibly known due to the total independence of their expert -Editor) ..Tenant X feels that he has been seen off and mugged good and proper as he has been technically outsmarted and conned into believing that certain fundamental statements had been settled and agreed.

Can Tenant X now call the whole thing off, start again, hire in someone to be as equally technically proficient as his opposition ? Can he wheel in points of law that have now cropped up on valuation issues ?  The answer to both is a resounding NO. The Deed of Variation signed in advance means that Tenant X is now totally committed to the process and legally bound by the result. In fact the Deed of Variation imposes the remarkable obligation that any breaches of the Deed may result in the entire Lease being forfeit. UNBELIEVABLE !!  To think that young Arthur and his enthusiastic crew at the BII (enthusiasm failed to spot the pitfalls) went along with this obviously Pubco inspired bit of trickery. Gives a warm glowing feeling does that !

PIRRS does not allow the raising of points of legal interpretation and the PIRRS expert is specifically prevented from commenting on ANY point of dispute as there is no reasoned award. All you get in the rent figure, nothing else. You will never know how the rent was assessed or reasoned. Neat one that for the Pubcos as the result can never be held against them.

FACT;- Virtually all the Pubcos are members of the BBPA.

FACT;- The BBPA pays for the PIRRS system by mandatory levy on all of its members although PIRRS goes out under the BII banner as being their scheme.

FACT;- The PIRRS logo now features prominently at the foot of the web page www.enterpriseinns.com/Applicants/Pages/Applicantchannel.aspx.

FACT;- If a dispute looks likely, the first thing Enterprise Inns reccommend is PIRRS, well its cheap innit !!  Go figure.

Back to the quiet sanity of my cellar.

Pot Boy.

Comment:-

There are always teething problems with any new scheme, especially one that is supposedly low cost and self represented, there should be the person i.e. the BDM representing the Pub Co if the lessee is representing personally, not a sledge hammer to crack a very tired nut. The BDM makes the running then vanishes to be replaced by what may be considered the equivalent of a QC in surveyor terms.

This is not fair and certainly from my information the essence of PIRRS is to achieve a fair and equitable solution at low cost, it will never be low cost if every lessee has to seek professional representation to get a fair hearing.

The RICS have gone a long way towards rectifying the abuses of the Valuation Recommendations, lets ensure that total fairness and transparency is observed in the use of PIRRS, if not arbitration under RICS Guidelines may well prove to be a fairer cheaper system in the long run.

Barfly

  “This site is a privately funded website and growing in readership every day. To achieve a wider recognition the Editor would welcome cross referencing back to Barrel Dregs postings through other Blog or Websites. Information about our industry has so much greater power if more people are kept informed. Many thanks if you would be good enough to do this”.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls. 

 

ALMR, early warning of new and emerging issues

 Pub and Restaurant, Legislation Proposals and Ideas

 

Giving you an early warning of new and emerging issues

Providing you with the information you need on the issues that matter most.

  • Budget Submission: the ALMR has again written to the Treasury to reinforce the need for this month’s Budget to provide a real incentive for job creation and a boost to economic growth. If the Government is serious about its intention to ‘grow the economy out of its current problems’ then it needs to do three things – think again on licensing reform in order to protect investment in a sector currently creating 1 in 8 of all new jobs; call in any proposed new business fee, levy or tax proposal which discourage entreprenneurship; provide real incentives for businesses investing in training and job creation. We have put forward a number of areas where we would like to see action taken to deliver this, including changes to the VAT regime. Further information

 

  • Tax Reform: the Office of Tax Simplification this week published proposals for reform of small business taxation. These will be considered by Ministers in advance of the Budget – although immediate decision on reform is a medium term objective. The key proposal is integration of income tax and NICs in one single payment to eliminate tax complexities which distort commercial behaviour and to make it simpler to administer. Options for reform range from simply aligning NIC and PAYE earnings levels to ensuring consistent approach to the tax treatment of dividends and abolition of the IR35 rules on self-employed. Other areas for future review include simplifying the reporting requirements on reimbursement of expenses and benefits, improved capital allowances and simpler VAT rules for smaller businesses. Ministers are also planning to lobby the EU to remove the requirement for small and medium sized businesses to have independently audited accounts. Read more ….

 

  • Smoking: the Department of Health this week published its Tobacco Control Plan setting out plans to further reduce the number of smokers by 2015. The good news is further restrictions on smoking in public places eg beer gardens, immediately outside premises  are not being considered. The bad news is that the ban on cigarette vending machines is re-confirmed and will take effect from October 2011. In addition, the requirement to remove cigarettes from small shops will equally apply to behind the counter sales of cigarettes and cigars in bars and restaurants. At the same time the Government published research on the impact of the ban on smoking in public places. The headline news that there had been no material impact on hospitality businesses was greeted with disbelief but the research only covered the first quarter of the ban being in force as the most recent official stats on employment and outlet numbers relate to 2008. We have already gone back to Department of Health to provide further evidence of the impact of the ban. It must be borne in mind, however, that the research is being used to justify why further restrictions are not required.  For more information click here …..

 

  • New Consultations: the Department of Culture, Media and Sport this week released a new consultation on the use of outside space in and around Olympic venues. New temporary regulations are being proposed which will severely restrict street trading in the immediate vicinity of Olympic events. Even venues which already have a licence for tables and chairs or for a private forecourt may find themselves unable to use the space unless they apply for special permission from the Olympic Development Authority. It is proposed to exempt “trading on private land adjacent to shops, cafes and related premises” but it is not clear whether this would extend to eating and drinking outside pubs and bars. We are pushing for clarification and will be responding to the consultation in full.

 

The proposals affect business in a wide range of locations across London as well as Glasgow, Weymouth, Cardiff and Manchester as well as venues along the route of road races. For a full list of regulations and restricted timings see page 39 of the proposed regulations – click here

11th March 2011                                                                                            

Sponsored by

Kate Nicholls
Strategic Affairs Director

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

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

Barrel-Dregs, another Pub Energy rip off (171)

Pub Energy Suppliers

A new client came to us very recently, he has a 10 year lease with a pub co, with a business that is doing relatively well considering the current climate, he was signed up to a 2 year contract with an electricity provider in 2008, this period was coming at the end of an expensive period for gas and electricity and one that had seen 2 energy suppliers go into administration.

Our new client was not aware of this and in reality should only have taken a 1 year deal and been able to renew a year later, never the less our client continued with his business and paid all invoices on time without question, he was then hit with the dreaded “roll over” the auto renew system that occurs if customers fail to terminate their existing agreement at the correct time, which can be around 4 months from the end of their contract, so in effect he had been hit twice for very large unit rates. Again our client continued to pay all his invoices without question even though he was contracted to rates well above the current deemed rate (out of contract rate system).

As a thank you for all his payments on time, the power company have recently written to him advising him that he renewal period is imminent and he would be increased again, this time to nearly 17.5p per unit, when the deemed rate is only 14.95p. Our client came to us and we managed to secure unit rates of 10.25pp unit for the next 12 months providing massive savings and some breathing room for the business.

Conservatively £2000 net or in more depressing terms about £20K of his turnover, can  any of us afford to lose that sort of money through complacency.

Gaz Tricity (Finds another nasty)

  “This site is a privately funded website and growing in readership every day. To achieve a wider recognition the Editor would welcome cross referencing back to Barrel Dregs postings through other Blog or Websites. Information about our industry has so much greater power if more people are kept informed. Many thanks if you would be good enough to do this”.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls. 

Alliance Online Catering Equipment – suppliers of Pub and Bar Equipment to the Licensed Industry

CAMRA and FSB back pub reform Bill

 

   

 
 

 

CAMRA and FSB back pub reform Bill

-Tied Public Houses (Code of Practice) Bill has potential to offer simple solution to counteract loss of valued community pubs

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have given their full backing to Martin Horwood MP in advance of today’s Parliamentary debate on the Tied Public Houses (Code of Practice) Bill. The Bill focuses on the continued necessity for reform of the beer tie, improving lease conditions for tied publicans, and increasing consumer choice, quality and value at the bar.

The 10 minute rule Bill, set to be introduced after Prime Minister’s Questions, has already received strong cross party support, and has been lauded as a simple solution to the complex problem of the ‘beer tie’ (as operated by large pub companies), an issue whereby a high proportion of pubs in the UK are run under ‘tie’ arrangements which prevent publicans buying beer and other products on the open market. Unfair conditions imposed by large pub companies are contributing to the closure of 29 community pubs per week across the UK.

Martin Horwood MP will present the Bill in Parliament on Wednesday March 9th. The Bill reads-

Tied Public Houses (Code of Practice) Bill

Bill to require the Secretary of State to introduce a statutory code of practice to require certain pub owning companies to provide their tied lessees with a guest beer option and the option to become free of tie accompanied by an open market rent review and for connected purposes.

This potentially groundbreaking Bill by Martin Horwood MP comes at a time when the Government’s commitment to endorse the recommendations of the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee report into pub companies in 2010 means that pub companies have until June 2011 to self-reform and improve their business practices. Failing to do so will result in pressure on the Government to intervene and implement a statutory code of practice requiring the large pub companies to offer guest beer and free of tie options to all their tied publicans.

Before the reading of the Tied Public Houses (Code of Practice) Bill, Martin Horwood MP, said:

‘Tied licensees are being strangled by high rent and high beer prices, and small businesses are subsequently going bust and pubs are closing. Such losses have a devastating impact on community life, and it’s about time tied licensees were given greater flexibility in this difficult economic climate. Pub companies have been dragging their feet over the beer tie issue since a Trade and Industry Committee report in 2004, showing simply that voluntary reform is not working.

 

‘Progress by the large pub companies has been limited so far and the voluntary approach appears to be failing. Whilst companies have introduced new codes of practice these codes are seeking to do as little as possible and do not offer the free of tie options and guest beer rights urged by the Business Select Committee and Government.’

 

Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, spoke in praise of the Bill. He said:

‘CAMRA remains steadfast in its commitment to reform the beer tie and help deliver a fair deal to the consumer and a vibrant pub sector. Tied publicans, on average, pay around £20,000 more for their beer every year as they are unable to purchase beer on the open market.

 

‘What needs to be put in place is a self balancing mechanism to ensure that the large pub companies offer tied publicans a fair deal allowing them to compete effectively and therefore remain in business.  A free of tie option accompanied by an open market rent review will ensure that large pub companies cannot exploit tied publicans as if they do so those tied publicans will be able to opt out. No company code currently offers a genuine free of tie option at this time, and none provide a guest beer option to all, so it is now down to the Government to remove punitive constraints on struggling tied publicans to help avert the current pub closures crisis.’

 

Clive Davenport, Trade and Industry Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

‘Tenanted pubs are being crippled by high beer prices and rent. Pub owners are having inflated prices imposed on them by the Pubco which then has to be passed onto the customer for the pub to survive. As we have all heard time and again, pubs are closing at a rapid rate and if action is not taken now, the great British pub will become extinct. The dramatic number of pub closures does not just affect the tenants and their families, but the wider community as well.

 

‘Tenanted pubs are not given a fair deal from the Pubcos that own them, so it is vital that action is taken to make this relationship fairer. This Bill would finally help to tackle a failing system and without such urgent action, we could see the pubs at the heart of our communities disappear forever.’

 

END 

Notes to editors-

1/ CAMRA defines a large pub company as one which owns more than 500 pubs. The proposed free of tie and guest beer options are intended only to apply to large pub companies.

2/ The Bill is sponsored by Martin Horwood MP and co-sponsored by Greg Mulholland MP, Tony Cunningham MP, Neil Carmichael MP, Angus MacNeil MP, Elfyn Llywd MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP, Lisa Nandy MP, Lorely Burt MP, Stephen Williams MP and Jackie Doyle-Price MP.

For Further Information-

CAMRA Press Office, 01727 798443

Martin Horwood MP, 02072 194784

Federation of Small Businesses Press Office, 02075 928121

Jon Howard, CAMRA Press Manager, 07939 425471

Freedom to Choose, Monthly News Letter

March Newsletter

Posted: 06 Mar 2011 03:00 PM PST

F2C Newsletter




A WORD FROM THE CHAIRMAN

Some time ago I joined my local NHS public sector  group.  Nothing exciting, but you get to fill in surveys and questionnaires for them periodically. It also transpires that they hold regular meetings to discuss present and future policies.  I attended one of these  meetings entitled “Priority Spending”.  What an eye opener! Briefly, smoking cessation was way down the priority list in Jo Public’s eyes. NHS representatives are directing ordinary people by the way they present each subject – in this case tobacco!

Accordingly, I have written by post to each member of f2c, asking them to ‘sign up’ to their local NHS group, and would urge everyone who feels that these unelected ‘experts’ enjoy too much power to do the same.  You don’t have to go to meetings to speak if you do not feel comfortable, but you can create plenty of uncertainty when filling in all their online bumpf! 

If you want to make a difference, start chibbling away at the bottom – that’s exactly what ASH did!

Phil Johnson
Chairman

THE TOOLKIT
Huge kudos to those tenacious folk over at C.A.G.E. for unearthing Smoke-Free Outdoor Public Spaces: A Community Advocacy Toolkit.  This lengthy guide painstakingly details the work of getting outdoor smoking bans ordained at local level –  what its opening sentence calls ‘the logical next step’.

Essential reading is C.A.G.E.’s own summary of the toolkit’s instructions, and what they tell us about the ethical values of tobacco control bodies like the Canadian Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada who reviewed and produced the toolkit. 

The anti-smoking activist is advised to ‘ghost write’ under different names, to adopt a tame journalist, to ‘plant stories’ and ‘create impressions’ in the local press.  Politicians must be made to believe that the campaigning activist’s demands are those of all non-smokers. 

Of particular interest to individuals and groups fighting these encroaching bans is the sweeping assertion that all opposition encountered is “invariably undertaken by tobacco industry front groups or plants, not ordinary citizens.”

The toolkit comes with a menacing twist in the tail: when the campaign is over and all the town ‘smokefree’, the dedicated activist is still not done. S/he must evaluate the lessons of the campaign in order ‘to determine how far you can push the envelope now.’

“You may not even know what the campaign will be yet and there may be a whole new set of players.”

(To be cont’d…)
 

MORE OF THE SAME


New York City council vote by a majority of 36 to 12 to ban smoking in all public areas except sidewalks. Billionaire, anti-smoking Mayor Bloomberg is said to be ‘delighted’, a view not endorsed by the comment sections of most newspaper reports. Despite a widespread thumbs-down for the move, Boston (Mass) is said to be keen to follow suit. 

  
*****

After analysing Health Minister Anne Milton’s bafflingly vague reply to MP Steve Baker’s question: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the exercise by local authorities of powers restricting smoking in public places, Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch thinks similar bans may be heading our way.
 
It is a prospect made sharper by February’s Johnston Press online poll. Its network of local e-newspapers were asking for a yes/no response to the acceptability of New York style bans around the country.  Ascertaining the level of support for ‘the logical next step’ is standard tobacco control strategy.  Polls are interspersed with periods of intensescare-mongering education until the ‘right’ answer is met. 


WOULD YOU SUPPORT A BAN ON OUTDOOR SMOKING?
ROUND 1: RESULTS
 

 

Poll Name No Yes
Leicester 55% 45%
Nottingham 61% 39%
Derby 57% 43%
Gloucester 55% 45%
Cornwall 63% 35%*
Scunthorpe 63% 37%
Bath 63% 37%
South Wales 57% 43%
Somerset 75% 25%


*Don’t know 2%

(Results at 28th Feb. 2011)

Expect ramped-up lobbying from the usual quarters, each armed with its very own Toolkit
 !

TAX AND SMUGGLING
You have to have sympathy for the Coalition. The country is broke and so, once again, finds itself turning to those naughty smokers to bail it out. The new boss appears to be as unfamiliar with the Laffer Curve as the old one.

As The Guardian points out, an above-inflation tax increase on tobacco is on the cards, which looks likely to increase man-in-a-van’s trade, resulting in more money lost to the treasury than gained – through smuggling.  Ms Arnott, director of ASH, denies any connection between high tax and smuggling, but then denying connections is an area in which ASH has previous form.

Hull City has a different tack.  Having voiced not a peep of protest about the proposed display ban, their sudden interest in damage to local shops from smuggling is heartening, albeit misplaced. 
 
Meanwhile, in Warrington there are worries that people who buy cigarettes with Ukrainian health warnings might think those cigarettes are only dangerous in the Ukraine.  Because everyone knows smokers are too stupid for rational thought.

Other examples of HMRC working hard for their dollar in Lancashire and Staffordshire

And, despite all the counterfeiting, this report from trustnet tells us that:
“Tobacco stocks have returned more to investors in the last decade than any sector in the IMA universe”.
SMOKING BANS ARE HERE TO STAY

…Or maybe not.

For the residents of Campbell County, Kentucky, the answer is a resounding ‘Not!’  Thanks to two men of principle and a concerted effort by bar owners and lovers of liberty, Campbell County vote 3-1 to overturn their smoking ban

New commissioners Pete Garrett and Brian Painter kept to their campaign promise to vote down the ban, which was originally passed in December and due to go into effect on April 15th.

Judge Steve Pendery describes the strength of feeling surrounding this issue:

“…which led to six consecutive capacity crowd meetings, [and] was by far the most contentious in his 28 years of governing, including 12-plus with the county: “It’s not even close,” he said.”
*****

stop press: shortest smoking ban ever? Venezuela Health Minister rescinds national smoking ban 24 hrs after the law is passed. No reason given for the sudden U-turn.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION
NHS TRUSTS: THE NEW LAWMAKERS?
NHS Trust Boards consist of people who do not have the authority to create new laws. Yet, Trust Boards across England and Wales have taken it upon themselves to declare that smoking in the open air grounds of our NHS hospitals is ‘banned’. 

It is against U.K. law to smoke in public enclosed places:  there is no mention of smoking being banned in the open air.  Private organisations have the right to ban smoking on their grounds, but NHS grounds are owned by the public and are not privately owned.

no smoking sign

The notices that have sprung up in our hospitals are usually careful not to state that smoking in the grounds is against the law, but they often state that smoking is against the law IN these premises.    They hope that this will convince most people that they would be breaking the law if they smoke outside in the grounds.  Other notices might state ‘It is this NHS Trusts policy to prohibit smoking on the hospital grounds’.  This statement is merely quoting the Trust’s   ‘policy’.  While law can compel or prohibit behaviours, policies cannot.  Staff may have to abide by these policies if they have a contract of employment, but patients and visitors do not.

When challenged, these NHS Trusts must admit that their policies are unenforceable and that patients and visitors are breaking no laws by smoking in the grounds.  

This new call by Manchester health chiefs proves that the Trusts do not have the authority to prevent smoking by patients and visitors in the grounds.  If they did have the ability to create new laws, they would not now be calling on the Government for outside smoking to be made illegal 

NEWS FROM SCOTLAND
ASH Scotland has a busy month ahead with not one but TWO conferences on the agenda.  First up is the March 3rd. gathering in Dundee at which attendees will be trained in the art of scare-mongering persuasion.  Co-sponsored by REFRESH (REducing Families’ exposuRE to Second-hand smoke in the Home) the full conference title is: Smokefree Homes and Cars: protecting children and families. Thanks to a generous donation from the Big Lottery Fund, it is free to professional health groups at point of entry.

Helping to ram home the smokefree message is Third Hand Smoke, now a fully accepted asset in ASH Scotland’s arsenal of fear.

The grandly-named Scottish Alcohol and Tobacco Policy Summit is scheduled for for the middle of the month, in Edinburgh. Officially, delegates from both sides will compare notes and ‘explore what each sector might learn from the other’. In reality, of course, the lessons will flow one way only. The modern alcohol prohibition movement lags behind tobacco control by almost forty years and has much to learn.

The Licensed Industry has reacted with bewilderment and anger to the news that their trade representatives have been left off the invitation list.  Alcohol Focus Scotland, showing how well it has learnt its first lesson, explains the snub:

“…it’s stand was done so to fall in line with Ash, which bans the tobacco industry from its events.”
Back on the mean streets, Chief Constable Steve House blames an increase in homicideson the combination of smoking ban and ‘cheap booze,’ which he says has created drinking dens in the residential areas of Strathclyde.
EUROPE

Spanish business owners in the hostelry sector said they are expecting to collect a million signatures in support of changes to the country’s no-smoking legislation; a figure which is double the amount needed to petition a debate on the matter in parliament. 
 
Greeks continue to defy the ban. As reported here,  there is something,  

“…within Greek society: a propensity to bend the rules, to rebel against authority, particularly that of the state. It is so ingrained that many Greeks barely notice the myriad small, daily transgressions — the motorcycle driving on the sidewalk, the car running the red light, the blatant disregard of yet another government attempt to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.”

 
And in the meantime,  we suggest the growing unrest across Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and even northern Cyprus means that for years those countries will have rather more important matters to attend to than anti-smoking. 

ODDS AND SODS

Martin Dockrell of ASH blames seasonal fluctuations in smoking cessation attempts on last May’s governmental decision to withdraw funding for anti-smoking adverts. Chris Snowdon offers a more cogent translation, of both the figures and Dockrell’s interpretation of them.

*****

NHS north Yorkshire and York is now joining Kent PCT in banning smokers and fat folk from routine orthopaedic surgery. 

*****

Still with smokers and fat folk, an increased demand for foster placements in the wake of the ‘baby P’ tragedy has charities again voicing criticism of rules, put in place in 2008, that bar both kinds of ‘undesirables’  from fostering.
 

*****

Road blocks and sniffer police will be deployed in a month-long campaign by Tendring council and Essex police to help identify cases of smoking in works vehicles and company cars. Two points of interest here: both the guilty driver and employer may be fined; and police involvement in an issue that they have, until now, been keen to steer clear of.

*****

David Hockney says he is thinking of packing his bags and decamping to America, so sickened is he by the constant smoker-bashing encountered here. He describes California as “anti-smoking but not mean-spirited.” 

Don’t forget! – Wednesday 9th. March 2011

now smoking day

Freedom2choose: 
c/o John H Baker 22 Glastonbury House, Priestfields, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS3 0LF
Tel/Fax 0845 643 9469

Freedom2choose (Scotland): 
c/o The Dalmeny Bar, 297 Leith Walk, 
Edinburgh EH6 8SA
Tel 0845 643 9552
Join F2C
Subscribe to the Newsletter
F2C Articles
F2C Home
JOIN F2C for just £10 a year.
Know of someone else that would be interested
Click Here
 Download Newsletter Pdf for distribution ClickHere

ALMR, Business Day

Let pubs make music! – Feargal Sharkey to speak at ALMR’s Business Day

 

ALMR is delighted to announce that Feargal Sharkey, the iconic musician and now passionate leader of UK Music, is to speak at ALMR’s annual Business Day at Plaisterers’ Hall on 31st March.  Feargal’s message to government is unambiguous “A fragile network of pubs and clubs is one of this country’s greatest assets. Stifle their chance to offer live music, deny musicians their chance to perform and you lose something that is good for local economies and good for local communities.”

Nick Bish, Chief Executive of ALMR says:  “Ever since the 2-in-a-bar rule was lost in licensing reform we have missed the connection between music and pubs and community enjoyment. Feargal’s passionate advocacy has at last gained the attention of the government, and concessions are in the pipeline.”

He continues: “The link between community pubs and music for the community is self evident and we are really pleased to be working with UK Music to convince government that this is a win:win opportunity.”

The ALMR’s Business Day includes the election of Steve Richards of Novus Leisure to be the new Chairman for the Association – to succeed Tim Sykes. The other key speakers are Vince Fihosy, Director of London 2012 City operations and Cllr Brian Connell, the Cabinet Member for Licensing from Westminster City Council – both speaking on how pubs, clubs and bars can operate profitably during the upcoming national events of the Royal Wedding and next year’s Olympics.

For details on attendance at this prestige business event for retail operators – call the ALMR on 020 8579 2080 or go to www.almr.org.uk

Nick Bish
Chief Executive

 

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

9B Walpole Court, Ealing Studios, London, W5 5ED

tel: 020 8579 2080 or fax: 020 8579 7579 or mob: 07831 778993

 www.almr.org.uk

Registered office – as above.  Registered in England & Wales No: 3964186

The Common Sense Guide to Buying a Restaurant/Bistros.

Restaurants/Bistros

and Licensed Catering Businesses

(Buying a Restaurant, Buying a Bistro, Coffee Shop, Café, Small Hotels)

The Common Sense Guide to Buying a Restaurant is now available as an ebook through www.smashwords.com and their outlets for $5.99 or the equivalent UK Value. The reason that we have done this is to get the essential information to a wider audience, in the hope that more people will find it easier to make a success out of their businesses.

By doing this the book gets to a far wider audience worldwide and may hopefully limit some of the failures in the Catering Industry.