Culture Wars & Moral Panic, the Story of Alcohol and Society by Paul Chase.
An interesting story for everyone involved in the Licensed Industry, Paul in my opinion of the most informed people in that Industry and the book is an insight as to how we have arrived at where we are or have we?
Historically we have almost the same problems to a greater or lesser degree that we had when they first brewed Gin in vast quantities three hundred years ago.
The same minority neo religious groups are opposing alcohol, the medical fraternity have endless reasons as to why we shouldn’t, yet the medical parties that I have been to, they all drink excessively, some smoke continually.
Prohibition allowed the Mafia to control alcohol distribution and denied the US Government a fortune in taxes, which would have far off set the cost of clearing drunks off the street or anything else, the smoking lobby have curtailed smoking in various places in the US. I was reading a financial paper where US Insurance companies were protesting people were living too long as a result of stopping smoking and their Health Care was struggling with old people living longer and being dependent on long term medical treatment.
We have binge drinking, supposedly endemic in all the town centres at some stage during the week or weekend.
This misinformation disclosed by these avenging lobby groups is mind blowing and the gullible influential people believing it likewise.
If you go to hospital or medical centre for anything, the first thing they ask you is whether you smoke or drink and then how much, regardless of the reason that you went there, if you have answered “Yes” to either, you become a proportional statistic
We have Pubs closing with monotonous regularity, decent country pubs are no longer viable, customers having moved to town centres where there are surplus pubs/bars running price wars to generate business, without considering the drug side, however hotly denied, follows young people where ever there are crowds to be found.
The book is a masterpiece in research for the identifiable facts and to my mind the factions remain the same, only the times have changed.
There are, without disclosing everything in the book a number of lesser points that affect the way the industry operates.
One point which may have important implications is the calculation of the Market Rent Option (MRO) due to become law in the very near future.
Selling Alcohol has for many hundreds of years required a licence, initially anyone with a licence could sell alcohol from the designated premises.
None of these premises were built to sell alcohol, in due time many may well have been, providing us with quirky old pubs steeped in history, many a complete pain to run with 21st Century demands, totally unsuited to efficient catering or modern day beer dispensing, at the time they had barrels behind the bar, if a bar existed, it was easy and convenient.
The catchment areas of these pubs has been ever changing with housing development, transport and communications, no longer travellers passing or villagers using pubs as the hub of the community, in fact the 21st century minority alcohol and smoking objectors have managed to ban smoking from pubs, causing many to lose their core businesses and close and as a result, we have far more uncontrolled drinking at home with cheap supermarket offers, in many cases pre loading before they go to town, especially with young people.
However the MRO could make a substantial change for the better for many tied lessees and Pub Co’s that endorse it.
The big question is what is the Market Rent, reading Pauls book it made me very conscious of the changes and suitability of the buildings and the catchment areas as they now exist, if any, with 21st Century business.
This same format of building pubs to suit the trends of the time, in ten years they are out of date, labour intensive or don’t suit the clientele, with this in mind every pub is different, a factor ignored by Valuers for ease of convenience.
You cannot apply one set of rules to every pub that wishes to go Free of Tie, without assessing the suitability of the building, it’s catchment area, it’s turnover, which is it’s market share and a number of other issues, pubs are not vacant lock up shops, they have a very complex business structure and most you cannot knock down and rebuild to suit the current market trends.
This may well make an interesting appendix to Pauls book.