The “superpower” of the industry is when it works together, delegates heard at the National Pubwatch Conference, which was held in Swindon this week.
This was the view of BII CEO Steve Alton who said that “Collaboration and partnership are key” for the pub industry and late-night economy.
“Our superpower as a sector is when we all come together,” he said.
He highlighted the success of collaboration during the Covid-19 pandemic and presenting a united message to Government when the industry needed support.
“Part of that collaboration for the first time was getting the Government to recognise the unique role of hospitality beyond its economic contribution of £42bn a year,” he said.
“Even beyond the 900,000 people employed in the pub sector or the mere three million in wider hospitality the really defining characteristic was the community and the social value that our sector has.”
He added that having this type of collaboration is also “fundamental” in improving late-night safety.
Alton raised concerns about the survival of many businesses in the current economic climate. He said that the loss of some business would have huge impacts to the local economies, employment and the supply chain.
“I would even argue to safety in the wider economy because having a vibrant, professionally-run hospitality is key for providing that backbone for societal issues we are trying to tackle currently,” he added.
“It has never been tougher.”
His view that partnership is crucial for the safety and success of the late-night economy was supported by the National Pubwatch of the Year Reading Pubwatch.
“Pubwatch is a voluntary organisation. It should be run by licensees, for licensees and respect should be given that it is a standalone organisation,” Reading Pubwatch honorary chair Bill Donne told delegates.
“But it really needs support from partners, be it from the licensing officers at the council or from the police, but also other forums such as the local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), night time economy partnerships and so on.”
He added that it is crucial for pubwatch members to have representation in other forums within the night-time economy and highlighted the success of this approach for Reading Pubwatch, which works in partnership with all stakeholders in the night-time economy, including the council, licensing department, trading standards, health and safety, police and fire and rescue.
Donne also highlighted that pubwatches need “tenacity” and “resilience” to succeed.
“If you are running a pubwatch it won’t always go your way but you have to keep at it. That is how Reading has lasted for 20-years and we are building a legacy that we feel confident will bring us forward into the future,” he said.
Donne pointed out the range of resources and support that National Pubwatch can provide and advised licensees to use the free training video and materials to support their businesses.
The prestigious National Pubwatch awards were handed out on the day including the National Pubwatch Award of Merit, sponsored by GBG, which rewards individuals that have contributed to the success of pubwatch schemes.
This was given to former Honorary Secretary of the All-party Parliamentary Beer Group and former vice chairman of Best Bar None Robert Humphreys, MBE, for his contribution to partnership working.
The prestigious Malcolm Eidmans award, sponsored by Poppleston Allen, which recognises the outstanding contribution made by a police officer or member of police staff in supporting Pubwatch was given to Police Sergeant Simon Hay who works with Orkney Pubwatch.
National Pubwatch also gave a Bravery and Meritorious conduct Award to Alan Gray, a Norwich security officer, who stepped in to save the lives of people on a night-out after a man attacked people with a knife.
The conference also covered a legal update covering many topics including Martyns Law, agent of change, the new Sec 182 Guidance and Laughing Gas reforms which were presented by Gary Grant (Francis Taylor Building) and Jonathan Smith (Poppleston Allen). There were also inputs from Insp Hayley Crawford of Nottinghamshire Police on the Ask for Angela Campaign and from the Home office on The Enough Campaign and Digital ID and technology and how it may be used with Age verification in the future.