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BII Annual Lunch - judging Licensee of the Year

On 16/05/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

It was all the more special to attend the BII Annual Lunch this year, as I had been asked to be a judge for the final six candidates for the Licensee of the Year Award. My role on a panel, with the previous year’s winner Madhis Neghabian and Kate Oppenheim (the new Editor of BII Business) was to ask questions about social responsibility. It was a very heartening experience. So many of the six shortlisted licensees really did take their social responsibility seriously. They knew about unit awareness, reducing the strength of house wines and 2.8% beers. They looked after their customers and cared about their welfare. Ashley and Kelly McCarthy of Ye Old Sun Inn in Colton, near York were worthy winners this year.

Tim Hulme, the new CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping gave a passionate and inspiring speech. He talked about the importance of being an awarding body as opposed to an industry policeman. The BII is keen to encourage development, help fill the skills gap and keep looking for the best in class to be our publicans of the future.

Tim is clearly interested in partnership. BII and BBPA have already met for half a day with our senior teams to discuss how we can work together. He is keen to work with other partners to give a collective voice – Springboard, ALMR, the Institute of Hospitality.

Last year they had 3,000 calls for advice to members. Tim hopes that the promised research for the statutory code consultation really will be independent. He wants membership of the BII to be a benchmark for quality, and promised to be part of a social revolution with clear standards of accountability, leadership, openness, sincerity and integrity. BII membership must offer a competitive edge. It was as ever a very special occasion and I am keen that we all support BII as our professional body for the future.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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The Worldwide Brewing Alliance meets in Geneva for health strategy discussions

On 15/05/13 by Andy Tighe (Policy Director)

With the World Health Assembly just a week away, the Worldwide Brewing Alliance (WBA) , which I currently chair, held a productive beer reception in Geneva on Monday evening. The event was a final opportunity to discuss the WHO Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD) Global Action Plan which is due to be ratified at the forthcoming Assembly. It was also an opportunity to showcase the actions being taken by brewers across the world to tackle the harmful use of alcohol.

In 2010, member states adopted the WHO Global Strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. The Strategy lists ten key policy areas that WHO members should consider when developing national strategies whilst taking account of local circumstances. It rightly recognises that there is no ‘one-size-fits all’ set of solutions. The brewing industry is keen to see a consistent approach taken in the NCD Action Plan which also has reducing alcohol misuse as a key element within it.

Indeed, following concerns raised regarding earlier drafts, the final draft NCD action plan is more consistent with the Global Strategy. However, some outstanding areas of concern remain and these were highlighted to the 30 plus attendees at the Reception, which included among them Ambassadors, Counsellors and Geneva-based Mission Representatives from around 20 countries across the world.

It remains to be seen whether the final adopted version fully reflects the views of the brewing industry, as negotiations between member states continue. However, it was a successful evening and one welcomed by missions in Geneva as a chance to build contacts with the brewing industry and enjoy a beer or two (in moderation!) with counterparts from other countries.

Andy Tighe
Policy Director


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Cracking holiday at home, Gromit!

On 13/05/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Of the UK’s tourist income, 80% comes from those who choose to holiday at home. Beer and pubs are an important part of this.

I was fortunate enough to attend the launch of the Wallace and Gromit ‘Get Packing’ campaign, hosted by Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. A ‘Holidays at Home are GREAT’ commercial will be broadcast on TV, while an extended version can be found I do hope you have a chance to watch it – try to spot the pub sign by the canal!

Wallace and Gromit have been around for 20 years and the animations are still made in Bristol. It is a big year for the Aardman franchise: a trail is being launched in Bristol with life sized characters and a themed ride will be opened in Blackpool. The characters will also feature as part of the Proms and international events planned by the BBC World Service.

The campaign has partnered with high street travel agents to help promote domestic breaks. Recent research on last year’s campaign found that 60% of those asked were proud to be British and 20% would be more inclined to take a holiday at home as a result. Last year, domestic tourism was fairly flat in terms of results, but day trips were up 11%, contributing £57 billion to the local economy. This year, the Chelsea Flower show is celebrating its centenary, it will be 100 years since the birth of Benjamin Britten and 200 years since Pride and Prejudice was published – so there are lots of great British events to celebrate.

I used this opportunity to make the link between this campaign and ‘Pubs are Great’ which we are working on with Visit Britain and Number 10. Since I had badgered Maria Miller over beer duty when I last met her, she was kind enough to say that she had thought of me when the duty cut was announced! Visit England also launched a small booklet ‘101 Things to do Before You Go Abroad’. Number two on the list is to visit the oldest pub in Britain.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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EMROs vs. Partnership – there should only be one winner

On 13/05/13 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

Last week’s decision by Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing committee to reject the proposed Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Order (EMRO) was significant for a number of reasons.

The powers to introduce an EMRO came into effect in October 2012, and Hartlepool has been the first Council (on the recommendation of the police) to formally consult on this proposal. The EMRO as proposed would have prevented the sale of alcohol after 2am by premises in Hartlepool town centre, in effect shutting down the late night economy after this point. Whilst the majority of the affected businesses in Hartlepool would have been dedicated late night venues rather than ‘traditional’ pubs, it should be remembered that an EMRO can be set at any time from midnight until 6am and is fundamentally untargeted and unfair on licensed premises – therefore EMROs should be challenged by the entire licensed trade at every opportunity.

The evidence base presented by the police in Hartlepool did not support the introduction of an EMRO. Indeed, Hartlepool has in fact seen significant decreases in offences in the night time economy since 2005, making the evidential grounds for the introduction of an EMRO even shakier.

Licensee and trade representatives at this week’s hearing presented the licensing committee with a number of negative consequences of implementing an EMRO, including customers moving to other towns or drinking at home after on-trade options are curtailed by an EMRO, a surge of people leaving premises at the same time - as happened prior to the Licensing Act 2003 - potentially placing pressure on police and taxi marshals.
Perhaps the most important point, however, is that businesses with a core late night trade would in effect be losing a large part of their attraction and custom if forced to close at 2am. Given the current economic challenges facing the late night sector, such a restriction on trading could well make the business unviable, leading to both economic impacts and job losses. Premises that have been granted their hours following legitimate applications, approved by the licensing authority, would in effect be penalised and potentially forced to close despite not causing any problems.

Hartlepool licensing committee decided on the basis of such representations that an EMRO in Hartlepool was not appropriate at this time – and one of the reasons given at the hearing was the impact such a measure would have on the viability of licensed premises and the subsequent impact on the local night time economy. Instead, the committee recommended that partnership working options should be explored – a positive solution that allows good and effective interaction between the trade, police and the licensing authority.

As Hartlepool has demonstrated, blunt legislative measures such as EMROs and Late Night Levies are not the way forward. Real partnership working and using the powers of the Licensing Act to target individual problem premises is the key to achieving a vibrant, successful and safe on-trade for customers, operators and enforcers alike.

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


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The historical burdens of regulation – we can lighten the load

On 09/05/13 by Gareth Barrett

Beer’s first clear mention in regulatory history was in, none other than, the Magna Carta, when, in 1215, standard measures were first introduced. Pubs got their first mention in 1285’s Statuta Civitatis London, which restricted opening hours.

Regulation is not consistent either. Put aside drink driving there were 30 pieces of major legislation directly aimed at pubs and alcohol between 1285 and 1990. 715 years – 30 pieces. One new piece every 20 years. Whilst there were legislative surges in the 19th and early 20th century, brought on by the temperance movement and Winston Churchill losing an election to a Prohibition Party candidate(with full prohibition ongoing in the United States) the rate of legislative implementation has at its peak been one new piece of legislation every three years.

However in the last 20 years we’ve had ten. One every two years. Higher than the rate when the temperance leagues had more than 100,000 members, higher than the times of Hogarth and even the entire era of American prohibition. This is before other legislative creep on food standards, planning, smoking, environmental issues, responsibility etc. are accounted for.

There is opportunity in this environment. There exist simple opportunities for the Government: requirements for wine measures hardly anyone uses, the burdens of the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order on pubs with rooms, the compulsion for an advert in the local paper for variations in licenses or even that brewers still have to complete a paper form to submit their returns on beer duty! These simple changes alone could save the industry almost £20 million every year.

There is a real possibility that Government proposals for a new deregulatory effort may bear fruit – we must make sure to actively push industry interests – because, frankly, we’ve got a lot that can go.

Gareth Barrett


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Brewing and Beer Brands Forum

On 08/05/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

The Worshipful Company of Brewers hold a series of four short talks each year, followed by dinner under the title of Brewing and Beer Brands and I was delighted to be invited last night in Brewer's Hall (no excuse for being late!).

Professor Katherine Smart, SAB Miller, began with a fascinating look at the importance of brewing in science (not the other way round!). 'Standing on the shoulders of Giants' led us first to the British Museum where you will find brewing recipe calculations which date back to 3000 BC, through medieval monks who used branches dipped in the froth off the beer to achieve serial re-pitching of the yeast and then hung the branches outside their houses to dry! From the development of early microscopes (used of course to look at beer) to Joules law and Louis Pasteur, there is a conjoined history of brewing and science.

Professor David Quain (Herriot Watt University) argued the case for fit for work, employability of graduates, the importance of job or work placements and links with the industry.

Tom Falcon (Shepherd Neame) encouraged us all to attend the Campden BRI day on 6th June and show the same enthusiasm as our colleagues in the food industry for the importance of its services. Tom also challenged us to think outside of the normal brewing services and consider many of the complementary services developed within the food industry such as eye tracking technology, testing the attractiveness of labels, process verification and its wide ranging Membership Interest Groups. Tom also announced the first brewing MIG in September.

Finally, Chris Ward (Thomas Hardy) explained the growth in PET, observed by Hardy and Hanson, and what a disaster it would have been if Usain Bolt had a glass bottle thrown at him at the London Olympics and not a plastic one! Although new barrier technologies have improved this situation, there remain disadvantages to plastic based on longer term flavour stability and product shelf life. However, advantages are seen in cases where container return is difficult and unreliable. The lower carbon footprint of PET, improvements in Capex and its growing social acceptability, despite many consumers still seeing glass as a more premium material, was also discussed.

Dinner in Brewers Hall is always a treat and in this case accompanied by the Master’s beer (Mark Woodhouse) we toasted Her Majesty with Badger Wandering Woodwose – a fitting tribute as today we await the Queen’s Speech.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Visit Britain's new tourism strategy

On 02/05/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Visit Britain, which promotes inbound tourism to the UK, launched a new strategy this week, which I was really pleased to attend.

As the organisation which promotes inbound visitors to the UK, Visit Britain wants to ensure that our Olympic legacy works for our tourism industry, and that we capitalise on the huge success of London 2012.

Visit Britain want to welcome an extra 40 million visitors to the UK by 2020, which will generate around 200,000 additional jobs. It is a big business, and a growth will contribute to the UK’s economic recovery.

Having these ambitious targets is great news. In the beer and pub sector, we know that we have something uniquely British to offer inbound visitors. Pubs in particular, are a top tourist attraction in their own right, (number 3 on the VB must visit list), so have a key role to play in delivering this growth.

Industry will have to work closely alongside Visit Britain in meeting these targets and we need to work with the Government, too. Ministers are certainly listening when it comes to looking at the barriers to tourism growth, such as tackling unnecessary red tape in the sector. We just need to translate the enthusiasm into something which cuts costs for pubs.

There’s no doubt that those who promote tourism in Britain are becoming ever more keenly aware of what pubs have to offer. This year, the BBPA is working with Visit England as a sponsor for their Tourism Pub of the Year, which will certainly showcase some of the fantastic pubs already delivering great things for our tourism industry. We have also worked closely with Visit Peak District on Pub Information Points and of course published our accessibility brochure.

There are huge opportunities for British beer and pubs in working closely with the wider tourism industry and we will make the most of them!

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Unit Awareness – it’s all about choice

On 02/05/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Some licensees, already under pressure to keep their business afloat in a challenging economic climate, may see the Customer Unit Awareness posters(and the other downloadable materials), recently circulated by Sky Sports, as pointless. They might even be tempted to
chuck them in the bin.

However, it is important to remember that providing information to customers is not the same as telling them what to do. It is merely one step that responsible retailers can take to educate consumers about the unit content of their drinks and help them make informed choices at the bar . After all, pubs are already the home of responsible drinking and this is just another way to demonstrate that. As many licensees as possible should display the poster in their pub and download the additional materials available.

More broadly, the Public Health Responsibility Deal, an initiative by the Government to work with business to improve public health through voluntary mechanisms, has been a focus for businesses large and small to engage on the issue of public health. It encourages businesses to think about how they can help to educate and inform consumers so that they can make a healthier or more responsible choice, if they so wish.

Because ultimately choice is what it’s all about. No-one wants anyone telling them that they should give that last drink a miss or perhaps choose the salad option from the menu. But if we can help people know how many units are in their pint then shouldn’t we do so? And if customers want a lower calorie meal isn’t it sensible to give them the option?

Of course, plenty of people will still choose their pie and chips the same as they have always done, and it will do them no harm. It is not the pub’s role to stop them - each to their own – but, providing choice and responding to customer demand, well, surely that’s just good business?

Putting up a unit awareness poster, stocking a 2.8% beer on the bar, promoting smaller serves or highlighting the healthy choice on the menu - there are plenty of ways that companies and pubs can get involved in the responsibility agenda and really why would they not?

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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The Journal of the Institute of Brewing (JIB) Goes Online

On 30/04/13 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

A large scale project undertaken jointly by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and Wiley Publishing, came to fruition this week. After many months of work The JIB, the leading scientific journal for brewing, distilling and malting science is now available to view online.

The Journal, which is published four times each year was first issued by the Institute of Brewing in 1890 and, due to the huge volumes of work, it has taken three years for the Institute to digitise the archive. The work has been funded by a grant from the IBD/BBPA Grant Fund.

With the completion of this project the entire JIB archive resource, from 1890 to the latest edition, is now available to view on line in a fully searchable format (by author and subject key words). All but the past two years of publications are available free to view from today, IBD members will have access to all journal articles.

To visit JIB online please go to and click on the JIB online link from the publications tab.

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


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