Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Here we go again ...

It's traditional at this time of year to look back at the past twelve months and remind ourselves of the highs and lows.

This year's review starts with a few iconic departures:

Jan 6... Give us an R, Bob and an I and a P ... Bob Hollness

Feb 22... it was the way he told them … Frank Carson

May 17… how we loved to love you baby … Donna Summer

May 20… he gave us Saturday night fever … Robin Gibb

August 6… stargazer and visionary Bernard Lovell

August 11… One Hundred & Eighty … Sid Wadell

August 25… "Giant steps are what you take, Walking on the moon …" Neil Armstrong

Nov 7… they didn’t like it up 'em … Clive Dunn

Dec 5... he helped us Take Five ... Dave Brubeck

Dec 9… xylophones and telescopes … Patrick Moore

Dec 11… "all you need is love" (and a sitar) Ravi Shankar

Dec 26... 5,4,3,2,1 ... Gerry Anderson

And what to say of the rest of the year? Two words will suffice ... Olympics and Paralympics ... nuff said eh?

What I really want to do is not look back in either sadness or joy but to look forward to 2013, which, for me will be The Year of the Pub.

It's been a busy year in the industry and much momentum has been gained in trying to persuade the government to support the pub trade and brewing industry ... the Duty Escalator Debate, opposition to Minimum Pricing ... continued calls for regulation of the pubcos ... alerting the general public to the crippling effects of taxation and red-tape on this most-cherished of social institutions ... the Great British Pub.

It surely must be time for all the "stakeholders" in pubs (publicans, pub staff, brewers, pubcos, customers, suppliers etc) to unite in an effort to promote the positive things that pubs bring to life in the UK ... places of social cohesion, creators of wealth and jobs, responsible retailers of alcohol, charity fundraising centres, buildings of historic and architectural importance, the list goes on and on...

Here are my 12 Principles for The Year of the Pub

  1. Support the concept of the pub in all its forms
  2. Support the concept of the pub as essential to the social cohesion of the UK
  3. Support the concept of the pub as essential to the economic well-being of the UK
  4. Pubs recognise the importance of the customer as integral to the success of the pub
  5. Pubs recognise the importance of beer in all its forms as integral to the success of the pub
  6. Pubs recognise the importance of all brewers as integral to the success of the pub
  7. Pubs will promote the concept of the pub as the preferred venue for consumption of alcohol in the UK
  8. Pubs will promote the concept of responsible retailing of alcohol
  9. Pubs will lobby their local and national political representatives to ease the tax and regulatory burden on the pub
  10. Pubs will demand from their suppliers promotional activity & material support of The Year of the Pub
  11. Pubs will demand from their suppliers specific advertising in all media in support of The Year of the Pub
  12. Pubs will continue the principles ad infinitum

The silent non sequiturs to the principles are easy enough to deduce, and a common theme is that divisiveness within the industry is doing no end of harm and allows those who would see social drinking demonised to the same extent as smoking; those whose corporate strategy is entirely indifferent to the continuance of the pub and those within the trade who only pay lip-service to high standards of service and responsibility create an environment whereby its greatest assets, its customers, finally turn their back on pubs. 

No doubt others would add to the principles, and as such there is a principle of democracy those in government need to understand they govern only with the consent of the people and corporations both foreign and domestic derive their very existence from their customers.

I believe a tipping point has arrived for the hospitality industry, the pub trade in particular, and that without concerted efforts to counter the continuing decline not only will a productive industry be irrevocably damaged but a vital social asset will disappear from many areas of the country... permanently.

So anyway enough of this, let's all raise a glass to peace and prosperity in 2013 ... preferably in a pub!

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