Monday, 1 February 2010

Straight and narrow

I wish I had more time to post, I really do, unfortunately there is so much going on here I haven't got time. I'm getting bogged down with all sorts of administrative stuff that keeps me from more fun activities. Plus, we've got a pub to open for the season and the list of jobs to complete isn't getting any shorter.

It really does perplex me the amount of hoops one is expected to jump through when running a pub. Environmental health, accessibility issues, licensing objectives, advertising, fire safety, accounting and tax, electrical testing and many, many others. Now I'm not saying that these things are not worthy of some form of regulation. Indeed I do not want the death of one of my customers or staff on my conscience, but I do wonder sometimes if we have gone well beyond the point of diminishing returns with many items of legislation.

When licensees get together we often lament some of the pitfalls of the job. It is also the case that we share our high points as well, we're not miserable all the time. However, we often have subjects of joint complaint with which to mutually commiserate about. One such subject for me is legislation. Most publicans I know try to keep up, but are really unable to.

One evening, in a friends pub, I was mentioning the problems of keeping everything above board and legitimate. My friends reply was along the lines of "why bother, you'll never keep up so just ignore legislation".

This was something of a surprise to me. I consider myself to be an honest and law abiding citizen. I like to remain legal. This guy was actually suggesting that it was impossible to run a pub and remain legal so you might as well ignore legislation.

I think this is one of my problems; I try to do things right. Perhaps I should take this guys advice and forget about legislation.

15 comments:

Tandleman said...

No you shouldn't, but of course you should prioritise, with Health and Safety at the top of the list.

You have the added complication of brewing and the associated paperwork, but its all part of the game, rightly or wrongly.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

I'd like to just say 'Aaaarrgggghh'. And you can quote me on that.

Eddie86 said...

Your not wrong Dave, and there would appear to be more on the way...

Cooking Lager said...

This legislation milarky isn't all bad. I'm planning to punt up for an afternoon at your gaff for endless glasses of free water when that law comes in. I might even make you pub of the month.

Woolpack Dave said...

Tandleman, I have no problem with ensuring everyone's safety. I would be devastated if either an employee or customer was killed or seriously injured on my shift. I work very hard to ensure practical safety.

I do not believe that the current approach to safety through the use of ridiculous over-cumbersome paperwork based systems is helpful, indeed I have a strong belief that they detract from real practical safety.

Safety is a cultural thing, not something that can be improved by writing procedures that never get read, in fact it detracts.

It has got to the point that most people, in my view, have little regard for current level of legislation making it worthless.

Stuart Bull said...

Rightly or wrongly, when we first arrived at our pub we actually invited in the local EHO and others to give us their advice on various issues that come under their remit since the pub hadn't been visited by anyone in a legislative capacity for several years, if ever. We had a task list of many jobs to be completed, including gaining an electrical test certificate, installing smoke alarms, purchasing fire extinguishers and painting lines on steps and putting up signs saying "mind the step". Cost us quite a bit of money to get all that done.

Had the previous landlord done it? Nope. Do landlords who have been in a premises for an extended period of time do it? Nope. Do PubCo's assess their own properties? Not based on the previous answer, no. So did we do right? And do we continue to do so by keeping our place clean and well maintained? You tell me. I think we do, because I care about our safety and that of customers and staff, but as neither us nor anywhere else around here has had a recent inspection, then who knows?

Richard said...

It's a risk going down the line of ignoring legislation - you might end up being made an example of and pay the price for everyone - but organised mass protest has worked many times in the past. If enough people disagree with something I'm sure it would be looked at again.

Woolpack Dave said...

Stuart, our experience here is similar and we're still working through the list. We've made the place much safer and much more compliant. I often think that we have taken on far too much.

I wonder how many pubs have got to the state where by they are just not viable to get them to the state of complete compliance.

Tandleman said...

"I do not believe that the current approach to safety through the use of ridiculous over-cumbersome paperwork based systems is helpful, indeed I have a strong belief that they detract from real practical safety."

If it isn't written down and understood by your staff and where needed by the customers, effectively it doesn't exist. It only has to be done once and then kept up to date. If you have in a practical sense assessed the risks, what's wrong with writing them down, cumbersome though you believe them to be? Most risks are generic anyway and those that are specific do need to be written down if you don't want to be sued if something goes wrong.

Complete forecasting of every eventuality isn't needed, but if you could reasonably have foreseen something and you did nothing about it, you'll get the book chucked at you if something goes wrong. But you won't agree I'm sure.(-;

Paul Garrard said...

I hate health and safety with a passion. I've sat in many a meeting and lost the will to live over health and safety. That said I don't see how any sane person can consider any civilised country being without it and the systems that support it.

Paperwork in general - preparation always helps being tidy and well organised is the key. Not worrying about how much there is but just getting down to it also helps. A little 80/20 also helps.

Sorry for this boring comment!

Stuart Bull said...

"I wonder how many pubs have got to the state where by they are just not viable to get them to the state of complete compliance."

I think a number of pubs survive only out of convenience. I have had a couple of conversations recently where customers use other pubs where the beer is not good, but use them because they are easier to get to than others (eg. ours) but these pubs hang on, unchanged for decades, pushing out poor produce. Either no-one gets ill from drinking bad beer or no-one complains about it, and certainly no-one had complained about falling down a step because the inspectors would shut places like this down in a flash and then they would be closed for good because no want want to spend the amount of money on them that they would need to bring them back up to scratch.

So these places hang on because they are not inspected. Which brings us back to the point of the legislation, which is only liable to be enforced when, as Tandleman says, the book is thrown because someone has sued. As a good establishment, that attracts customers then, it's important for us to be compliant because in this blame culture we are the ones in the firing line.

All part of the game...

Woolpack Dave said...

Paul, yes health and safety is essential, but I think we go far beyond the point of diminishing returns. To the point that many people treat the subject with contempt.

Tandleman, at least there is one point we can agree on; negligent operators should be brought to justice.

Arse covering documentation I do not agree with. I'd rather spend the time training staff and fixing real dangers.

roadsidepitstop said...

Ok scratch "wanting to run pub" off the list!

Anonymous said...

You need to get the floor of your bar levelled Dave. Found myself staggering all over the place and falling over last August.

Washy

Woolpack Dave said...

Roadside, running a pub can be very rewarding indeed. However nobody should take on the role lightly, it is very hard work with little reward and then the Government make it even harder.

Washy, yes indeed, must add the banning of all drunken bums as a risk reduction measure.