Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Down The Pub


What is it with the British and their local? I have just found out that a new pub will open two streets away. To be precise, it closed down a few years ago, and someone wants to reopen it. I can't believe it. Honestly, we don't need another pub: there is at least one at every corner of every street where I live. It is not too bad during winter, but it is a nightmare when it gets warmer: drunken patrons start shouting in the streets, peeing everywhere and occasionally fighting during the wee hours of the night. And it is the same in most parts of London. Lovely.

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand that British pubs are a way of life. They are so much more than places where you drink. Pubs are where most singletons meet their other half. The most important business meetings happen down the pub. And if your boyfriend doesn't commit to you while having a pint or two, then the relationship is clearly doomed: everybody knows it. I get it: over here, pubs are where most important life milestones happen. That said, don't you think that it is a bit sad to need booze to open up? What happened to theaters, cafes and art galleries? What is wrong with us? Don't you think that it is a complete non-sense?




Seriously, I counted 11 places (without the new pub) where you can buy booze, and they all are two blocks away from where I live (we are talking about a radius of something like 110 yards or 100 meters). Some are restaurants, others pubs. I didn't even count the corner shops. Do we really need a another one? Really? I don't think so. I have therefore decided to object to the new place's license and there will be a hearing at our council in a fortnight. I am told that the license will be granted, even if there is fierce opposition in the neighbourhood. It makes you wonder why we are consulted at all if our objections are not going to be considered anyway. I hate this 'tick-in-the-box' culture over here: the neighbours needs to be consulted. Check. It doesn't matter what they say, it is something that you need to do. Check. We might (only might) be able to reduce the opening hours (until 11.30pm in the actual application!), impose some additional sound insulation, and prevent customers from drinking outside, but apparently that's as far as it goes, and it is certainly not a given at all. Come on, this binge drinking culture needs to stop! Why would we want to make it even easier to get drunk? What is there to gain exactly?

I know that I sound like an old bore, but honestly, where does it stop? Maybe they want all the residents to get sloshed at every possible opportunity? Why don't we have 'drinking streets' then, where all houses have a public bar? I thought that there was a housing shortage in London, why don't they convert the new pub into flats? Or a health club with a cafe? Surely it would be money better spent? I really don't understand this booze culture. Wish me luck for the hearing!

14 comments:

  1. Rather than have an elongated twitter debate I thought it easier to post the opposing viewpoints on here. Firstly London has been losing around 5 pubs a week, many coverted into houses and flats. A lot of these were historic properties which have now been lost forever. Not every pub is ideal, they need to be well managed and both the pub locals and nearby residents operate together to resolve any issues rather than at loggerheads. A pub is licensed and so is responsible for those drinking within it. Shops just sell drink and then are no longer responsible for that person when they drink the alcohol. A pub is a much better environment for drink to be served as it can be controlled. A pub is also a key social focal point and can bring the community together, through such things as quiz nights, the world is a better place for people interacting, sharing ideas, having a laugh, being creative, being stuck in a house limits this. It also can generate income and create jobs. The pub you are objecting is an existing pub premises, the new owners see it as a viable buisness and somewhere where people would want to go. You paint an inaccurate and unsubstanciated picture of pubs being hell holes full of drunk and singletons. Most new pub ventures, particularly in Kensington are a mix of a bar and restuarant and not aimed at 'binge' drinkers. You live in the centre of a large multicultral city, they are vibrant lively places, pubs are one of the things that make it unique and are a feature many visitors love. It would be a very dull place if they did not exist. If they are viable and the owners and those managing the pubs are responsible then we should as many as we need.

    @londonpubsearch

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    1. irst of all, thanks for explaining your position. I always welcome a respectful debate and I am actually pleased that you took the time to comment. I agree with the points that you are making, but I think that it would be wrong to ignore local particularisms. This is a quiet, residential neighbourhood mostly for families and elderly people, and it simply doesn't need any more pubs (or corner shops that sell booze, which would be even worse, I agree with you). Of course it is nice to have a drinks with friends down the pub (and there are already many pubs to do exactly this) but can you honestly tell me that you have never witnessed drunken behaviour in or near a pub? It only takes one person to sing loudly in the street in the middle of the night, drink drive or start a fight. During the summer, twice a month on average, patrons were starting to shout in the street, preventing the residents to sleep. Once, when I was living in Pimlico, a drunk guy started banging at my door and I was terrified: to make matters even worse I was on my own, with a baby in the house. A few months ago, an inebriated guy from a pub on Earls Court road started to follow me. Not pleasant. I am all for having vibrant neighbourhoods and, as you say, key social points: I would welcome an open art gallerie, and independent theater or even a health club with a lovely cafe, but I simply don't want to take any chances of any more drunken behaviour. Why would I risk it? I also suppose that, with a young family, school and job duties, I value the quality of my sleep and my safety a lot more than before. Something to do with getting older, probably.

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  2. Good luck, but it'll do no good it seems. You're lucky there's at least a semblance of consultation. Here they don't give a rat's arse what we think about anything, unless it threatens someone's votes... then there's hurried back-tracking and face-saving. The system stinks.

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    1. I really hope that something good will come of this process. Well, I just have to wait and see, I suppose.

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  3. I think there are just a few too many sweeping generalisations and stereotyping. I used to be a senior executive on the Publican Newspaper and believe me the pub industry is dying, more pubs are closing every week and the pop-ups are only lasting a few months. There will always be more pubs in central London. Competition for overseas visitors is fierce and so per Square metre will be more. We're not all lager louts, some of us like freedom of choice. Where we live there are 8 gastro pubs and 18 restaurants all situated in a pretty triangle. We welcome local business, we welcome the opportunity for change and a different menu or wine list. We do not go and get 'sloshed' in the summer, it's just a lovely opportunity to sip our prosecco in the sunshine. It's so scarce in this country after all.

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    1. Well, Anita-Clare, I am not trying to analyse the pub industry, I just don't believe that my neighbourhood needs another pub and this is the reason why this very pub closed down a few years ago. Of course I love having a drink with friends, and there are already a lot of venues to do exactly this where I live. That said, I also value the safety and the quietness of my neighbourhood and feel that another pub will inevitably lead to more risk or drunken behaviour (all it takes is one inebriated guy/girl and it has already happened). Why should I put up with it? I would of course welcome another local business, just not a pub.

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  4. Wow. Makes me wonder how they actually make a profit with so many? We have a bar 1/2 a block away. It has made for some interesting evenings including a passed out bleeding guy on my porch and someone who drove his truck fast enough through my picket fence that it sheared off a wheel, took down 2 30' trees and dislodged my brick steps. Fun times!

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    1. I am not surprised. If there is booze, well, some people will not be able to drink responsibly.

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  5. Variety is the spice of life, n'est pas? My neighborhood is full of vegetarians but no vegetarian restaurants and I figure if I keep on spreading the word, one day, one will appear. I think it's great that you're getting involved, whatever the outcome.

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    1. This is such a nice way of seeing the situation. I really hope that I will learn something from this process.

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  6. Good luck Muriel. But if this is something deeply embedded in the culture, I'm thinking any opposition will be having a difficult time. So I guess there aren't any strict zoning laws over there?

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    1. No, there aren't. That said, lots of pubs are closing down because they can't make a profit.

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  7. We used to live close to a pub in Islington. I don't think there was a single weekend with slept-through nights for any of the residents in the street we lived in. Fights, motorcycle theft (two in three months, and that's just our bikes!), people peeing in corners and against doors, loud singing... you name it. Not a fan either xx

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    1. I think that once you are in charge of a young family suddenly things change and pubs lose their appeal. Just a thought.

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