Belfast Bars – Rates, A Fair Deal?

I’ve talked to many people across a lot of different industries about Rates, and how they can seem somewhat….unfair. And of course everyone thinks that…its a tax, and nobody likes paying tax, and everybody thinks they should pay less tax and taxes are bad and blah blah blah. Taxes are necessary, and rates are necessary….although in my opinion, even after “austerity measures”….what our rates pay for seems to be somewhat profligate… I cant speak for other industries, I don’t know the ins & outs of them…I don’t know what works and what doesn’t, what their gripes and problems are…I do however know that the Bars of Belfast feel hard done by with rates. Yes, they were frozen this year….Woop-de-Doo. I know “Every Little Helps” and all that jazz….but somehow when I looked into the figures, It just didn’t seem right. To be honest, I was shocked at what I found. Not in a I’m-Trying-Highlight-My-Point-Here-And-Want-A-Dramatic-Element-To-It….i genuinely was shocked. I did some research and thought that worst case scenario, I would have a quarter or even less of the figures that I ended up with. And to clarify, these aren’t politically researched figures and this isn’t the concept of “Lies, Damn Lies, & Statistics” This is matter of fact, what bars pay, and what councillors are paid. Make up your own mind on it, maybe its fair, maybe it’s not. This isn’t one issue I’m trying to lead a revolution on…I don’t have the time. I am however just trying to make people aware of the cold hard figures. So….Discuss & Share....
#BlameNelson: a working group?

#BlameNelson: a working group?

So to take this as far as I can I have come to the decision that it would be preferable to not just be me steering it. Altruistically, I have the best interests of the hospitality industry at heart, however Basil probably thought that whilst installing himself as Über-Sexën-Führer of NI21… I have the opportunity to get some questions asked in the assembly about Easter licensing reform and is love it to not just be me concocting them…like a fine cocktail, this should involve multiple ingredients. So I’m looking for some interested parties who work in and around the licensed hospitality trade who are willing to chip in with ideas and drive and direction. No big commitment, if you want to help with the spam war then great, if not…that’s fine. Maybe we’ll meet up somewhere for a chat about things, maybe it’ll just be a group email-round, maybe even I’ll finally work out what a “google hangout” is. Either way, I would like the input of other individuals. It’s important to me to hear from outside of Belfast too, in my opinion, this hurts the hinterlands worse. So get in touch, if you know someone who might be interested, let them know I’m lookin’...
#BlameNelson an update pt. 2

#BlameNelson an update pt. 2

I received an email from a DUP MLA today, in response to my original mail out to receive political responses to ascertain the current lay-of-the-land. To find friendly faces to to speak. I won’t name names publicly, but here is dialogue so far with this particular MLA Belfast Barman: I’m writing regarding Easter licensing hours for the hospitality trade. I ran a bit of an amateurish campaign over the Easter long weekend to gauge what public, professional & political opinion was and the response was resounding. The basis of the campaign was to highlight that current legislation is causing severe damage to the hospitality industry and tourism potential over such a potentially lucrative period, it really makes us look like we’re still in the dark ages I had some support from MLA’s across the political spectrum in helping get awareness of the issue raised. I’m writing to you as you are on the REDACTED committee and I would love to get your opinion on the issue. I think the legislation is often seen as only affected DSD but my view is that it affects enterprise, trade, investment, employment, finance and a great deal of other areas too. Imagine the potential tourist influx from Ireland over the long weekend if our hospitality law was 21st century, and representative of a multi-cultural, multi-faith society. As it is, publicans and restauranteurs spend a significant amount of time over what should be a busy period having to explain to locals & tourists alike what the law restricts them to. I have attached some tools I have been using to explain the issue to...
#BlameNelson an update

#BlameNelson an update

Just for anybody who is interested in what’s going on with the #BlameNelson campaign: I had said from the outset that publicly, this issue is off the table and forgotten about for 50weeks of the year, and whilst everybody in the industry is aware of it year round, we don’t complain 365 because it doesn’t affect us 365. This is where I’m trying to come in. I’m not a publican, I’m not an owner or proprietor, I’m not a tenant or a leaseholder. I’m a bar manager. What I put in my bank account every week is the same whether or not I can serve over Easter. I am salaried so what I earn on Good Friday is the same as any other day of the year. The issue is too often seen as “publicans trying to put more money in their pocket” it’s not. This is a rights issue, a discrimination issue. A taxation issue, a representation issue & an issue for every citizen. Northern Ireland has a population of approximately 1.8million. The Free Presbyterian church of Northern Ireland has approximately 15,000 members. And yet policy is dictated by this lobby group. In the 2011 census, 305,000 indicated either no religion or no stated religion. And yet policy is dictated by this lobby group. However, this is not and will not become an atheist vs free presbyterian issue, despite that is how it has been perceived by some. I have great respect for people of faith. I have often said “the greatest human emotion is faith…..blind faith, however, is the most dangerous” the benefits of a multi faith...