... while pubs group claims lack of Ex­ec­u­tive is cost­ing mil­lions

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY CATE MCCURRY

THE head of North­ern Ire­land’s pub­li­cans group has said that a lack of lo­cal govern­ment is cost­ing the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor mil­lions of pounds.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster Colin Neill com­pared the col­lapse of the Assem­bly to be­ing like “a scene from Fa­ther Ted”, ad­ding that it was dam­ag­ing the po­ten­tial for fu­ture growth in the in­dus­try.

He cited the lack of progress in mod­ernising the Liquor Li­cens­ing Bill as one of the ma­jor con­trib­u­tors to the losses.

There is grow­ing anger among the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor that the Liquor Li­cens­ing Bill was killed fol­low­ing a break­down in power-shar­ing.

Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster, which holds its lat­est AGM in Belfast to­day, said that tens of mil­lions of pounds are be­ing lost ev­ery year be­cause the draft leg­is­la­tion has not been passed.

The an­nual meet­ing also comes as it emerged that ev­ery four days a pub in North­ern Ire­land closes, while ho­tels and restau­rants say that they are strug­gling to re­cruit staff.

The lead­ing in­dus­try body has called for “se­ri­ous fo­cus” on de­vel­op­ing the hos­pi­tal­ity of­fer.

Mr Neill said: “Mod­ern li­cens­ing laws won’t re­sult in more al­co­hol be­ing drunk, it will mean our pubs, restau­rants and ho­tels can of­fer our cus­tomers what they want and hope­fully at­tract peo­ple away from home drink­ing into a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment.

“With min­i­mum unit pric­ing of al­co­hol also re­main­ing an un- touched is­sue, harm­ful drink­ing con­tin­ues to rise.”

He said that lat­est re­search shows that 6% of the pop­u­la­tion con­sumes 44% of al­co­hol, pre­dom­i­nantly at home, which he said has put a “huge strain” on health ser­vices.

“At­tract­ing them into a pub would help to counter the neg­a­tive im­pacts of home drink­ing,” Mr Neill added.

“Both the cur­rent and fu­ture po­ten­tial of the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor is be­ing dam­aged with out­dated leg­is­la­tion, crip­pling busi­ness rates and a lack of ac­cess to labour, due to the lack of a func­tion­ing govern­ment in North­ern Ire­land.

“It’s like Fa­ther Ted, where the in­ten­tions are good, but de­scends into never end­ing calamity.

“We have now found our­selves caught up in a far­ci­cal episode on re­peat.

“It’s the ‘care­ful now, down with that sort of thing’ scene but for seven years.

“That’s nearly a decade since the North­ern Ire­land Assem­bly started the process of mod­ernising our an­ti­quated li­cens­ing laws — noth­ing has hap­pened.”

‘Far­ci­cal’: Colin Neill

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.