The nationwide Best Bar None scheme for the licensed trade has reached central London for the first time, launching in the West End.
Westminster City Council has led on the introduction of the initiative in partnership with other agencies to help make the area safer and further boost the local economy.
Created as part of the Westminster Licensing Charter, the council has teamed up with businesses around Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, working together to help reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder.
It was launched yesterday (October 30) ahead of the launch of another Best Bar None scheme covering the London Bridge and South Bank area.
Backed by the Home Office, Best Bar None works in partnership with local government agencies including the police, local authorities and businesses in raising standards and promoting the responsible management of licensed premises.
Talking at the launch of the Westminster scheme, council leader Nickie Aiken said: “Best Bar None plays an important part in recognising achievement in good premises, driving standards and changing the relationship between the council, the police and industry.”
Lord Smith of Hindhead, chairman of Best Bar None, added: “Helping to tackle crime, disorder and under-age sales, Best Bar None helps to create a safer and more responsible alcohol-related leisure environment that encourages people of all ages to socialise.
“All statistics show that people who drink with company consume less alcohol than those who stay at home and they also benefit from social cohesion. We want more people to go out and enjoy our great pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants not only in London but also across the country.
“It is increasingly important for the industry to maintain self-regulation in demonstrating licensed premises are well run, responsible businesses that have a positive impact within our towns and cities.”
The scheme is accredited by Heart of London Business Alliance whose business resilience and night-time manager Rico Pieri said: “We are delighted to be launching the first Best Bar None accreditation scheme in Westminster. This industry-led scheme will help businesses in the evening and night-time economy raise standards and will also promote responsible management.
“This will make the West End a safer and more attractive destination for all to enjoy. The initiative has come about through the successful partnership of Westminster City Council, Metropolitan Police and Heart of London Business Alliance.”
Representing licensed operators across the country, Ian Payne, chairman of leading bar and pub operator Stonegate Pub Company, said: “Each year, millions of customers visit pubs, bars and clubs with the aim of having a good day, evening or night out, all of whom expect to be within a safe environment.
“It is great news that Westminster has instigated a more cohesive approach amongst the agencies and the industry through the auspices of Heart of London and Best Bar None, enabling us all to work towards generating economic growth within this great city.”
The launch on October 30 was also attended by representatives from operators such as Novus, Mitchells & Butlers, JD Wetherspoon, TGI Fridays, Greene King, Hippodrome Casino, Platinum Lace, Ruby Blue, Criterion Hotels, Edwardian Hotels, Maxwells and McDonalds.