Efforts to raise the standards of bars, pubs and clubs in Plymouth have earned the city the award for the UK’s top Best Bar None scheme.
Running for over 10 years with 55 venues actively involved, the Plymouth scheme picked up the title of Best Overall Scheme in the National Best Bar None Awards announced at a parliamentary reception at the House of Lords.
Torquay’s scheme was highly commended in the same category, while Bolton won the award for Best New Scheme and Sheffield came top in the category for Most Innovative Scheme.
PC Natalie Dolan from Greater Manchester Police won the Outstanding Commitment Award for her work on the Manchester Best Bar None scheme. It goes to an individual who has shown commitment above and beyond what would normally be required in support of local or national activities.
Originally launched in Manchester in 2003, Best Bar None is a Home Office-backed scheme that works with the alcohol industry, police and local authorities to promote responsible alcohol consumption and higher professional licensing standards in pubs, bars and clubs.
By working to reduce 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.
Plymouth’s scheme has resulted in a significant reduction in crime and alcohol-related admissions to A&E during the evenings and at night time. The judges were very impressed with the sheer number and variety of premises involved, as well as the longevity of the scheme and the fact that clear evidence was provided to show that, in areas where Best Bar None is active, it is making a demonstrable difference.
Best Bar None’s chairman Lord Smith of Hindhead is pictured, left, with Plymouth Best Bar None’s chair, Jay McDonnell, and its co-ordinator, Catherine MacDonald.
Lord Smith, who hosted the ceremony, said: “I was delighted to become the chairman of Best Bar None at a time when it is increasingly important for the industry to maintain self-regulation, demonstrating that licensed premises are well run, responsible businesses that have a positive impact within our towns and cities.
“I have always believed that a society which socialises together is a stronger society. The so-called ‘stay at home’ culture is not good for our industry, and statistics show that people who drink in 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.
“It is important to remind Government that the hospitality industry is the third largest private sector employer. Three million jobs are directly supported through ‘Hospitality UK’. That is 9% of all UK employees.
“And if we just take from that figure the statistics relating solely to eating and drinking out, then our pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants generate £63billion turnover each year, returning a third of that turnover in taxes funding vital public services. In fact, one in three of all new jobs created last year was generated by the hospitality industry.”
Victoria Atkins MP, under secretary for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability and minister for women, added: “The Government’s Modern Crime Prevention Strategy contains new measures to prevent alcohol-related crime by improving local intelligence, establishing effective partnerships and equipping the police and local authorities with the right powers.
“The strategy has also committed to launch a second phase of the Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAA) programme as part of our work to establish effective local partnerships to make the night time economy safer.
“Since its launch in January last year, we have been working with 32 areas across England and Wales to support local action, and working in partnership to tackle alcohol-related harms.
“An important part of that initiative was the founding of a highly successful Best Bar None scheme. I’m grateful for the work that Best Bar None and other schemes do to improve this essential partnership working, making our cities and towns that much safer.
“The Home Office supports Best Bar None because we share common objectives of reducing alcohol-related crime and disorder and promoting the responsible management of licensed premises and the licensed trade, working with businesses, the police and local authorities.
“The schemes that receive awards tonight provide excellent examples of the role that Best Bar None can play in achieving those objectives.”
Best Bar None is also supported by the Scottish Government, the police and the on-trade including Stonegate Pub Company, JD Wetherspoon and Mitchells & Butlers and main sponsors Diageo Great Britain, Heineken UK, Pernod Ricard and Molson Coors.
Suzanne Baker, commercial director at Stonegate, said: “A large number of the pubs in our estate are involved with Best Bar None at a local level. It plays a very important role in reducing alcohol-related crime and creating a safer environment within the communities in which it operates.
“We are proud to support such an important initiative and delighted that many of our pubs have won top accolades as a result of their involvement in the scheme.”
A new video premiered at the event, outlining Best Bar None’s successes to date and summarising plans for the future. Click here to view the video.