All your pubs belong to Nick Nunn

Here is the latest offering from Nick Nunn at the Lancashire Telegraph. (With running commentary from The Moose)

PUBS have taken a real hammering in the past decade.

No shit. It's down to the smoking ban.

Nicked from Velvet Glove, Iron Fist.

Wouldn't you agree Mr Nunn?

As lives get busier and money gets tighter the number of people popping into their local for a pint or two has dropped drastically.

A few maybe. What about the smoking ban.

The traditional big factory employers have disappeared and with them the corner pubs where workers would pile in for a drink on their way home and compete in works’ darts or dominoes teams.
Even pub quiz leagues are nothing like as popular as they were five or more years ago.

True, pubs change shape over time, but what about the smoking ban?

The increasing price of booze, the social stigma (rightly) now associated with drinking

Rightly? You think it's right that there should be a social stigma attached to drinking alcohol? Getting pissed and having a fight, yes, but going down the local boozer for a pint and a chinwag? Come on.

and the smoking ban have all meant more and more folk drinking at home.

Ah, there it is. I like the way you think people drink at home because there is a social stigma. Do you think they are hiding because they are embarrassed? People drink at home because they can have a fag inside without the ever watchful eye of the state breathing down their neck. The booze is also cheaper which is an added bonus.

The result is that it’s become extremely difficult to make boozers work as a business unless they are transformed into more upmarket gastro pubs where customers are coming for the food rather than company and a chat.

In this fast-moving age of instant electronic communication people need added value if they are going to be tempted to drop into a bar – an extra attraction. The idea of sitting in a virtually empty, and often shabby, public bar is just not an attractive proposition.

You're right, before the ban, pubs were much more pleasant places to visit and socialise. Now they're mostly empty and folk have to go out in the rain for a fag. I wonder what we can do about it?

But Erica Dobie and Adam Whittaker might have the answer to this dilemma. They are running a project called Stars and Stuff which has just been awarded a £24,000 grant by the Adult and Community Practical Learning Fund to deliver practical astronomy education in Darwen to adults and families ‘disengaged from traditional science institutions such as museums and universities.’ The idea is that they will deliver a nine-month course in a place where people feel comfortable and relaxed – like a pub.

That isn't what I had in mind. In fact I'm quite horrified. *Outrage*
Twenty four thousand pounds of taxpayers money to teach astronomy in pubs? Cuts? What cuts?

And please explain to me what 'disengaged' from museums and universities means. Does it just mean they can't afford the entry fee, so the taxpayer has to pick up the tab?

It’s a great idea and one which could easily spread.
Why spend a fortune throwing up expensive new ‘community resource centres’ and the like when we already have a network of pubs just waiting to be used.

We? We have a network of pubs?

Please take a moment to let that one sink in.

we already have a network of pubs just waiting to be used.

The pubs are owned by the landlords and pubcos. They are not state property. They most certainly are not there to be exploited at the will of the 'community'.

They are already being used. They are being used for the purposes intended by the owners. That fact that they may be being underutilised is the fault of the Government and the childish smoking ban which as thrown out the bulk of the customers.

That doesn't mean that the state can walk in and take what's left.

If a landlord wants to join a scheme like this to boost business then fair enough. I would prefer it wasn't paid for by the tax payer though. Besides, I don't imagine a person that can't afford a few quid to go to a museum spending much over the bar, can you.

You could have all sorts of activities from learning foreign languages like Spanish, to flower arranging, English literature and drama taking place in bars – not to mention wine appreciation classes!
Many pubs also have outside space too which could be used for teaching practical skills – and tidying them up too.

No, no, no. Pubs are not schools. They are pubs. They exist for adults to go to have a drink and a smoke and a chinwag with friends.

The fact that the smoking ban has ruined all that does not mean we should make landlords start holding adult education classes in them. Repeal the ban and let's sort the problem out properly.

Yes, getting people to the pub to gaze at the wonders of the universe instead of into a pint glass could be the start of an educational revolution.

It would also be the final nail in what was a traditional place to socialise with friends.

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