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Odds & Sods

Staff turnover costing pubs a fortune
According to Conrad Lashley, Professor of Licensed Retail Management at Leeds Metropolitan University, turnover of staff is costing the Licensed Trade over £300m a year! This startling revelation was made at a conference on recruitment and retention held by Leisure Careers UK which is an arm of the British Institute of Innkeeping.

Professor Lashley said that companies in the licensed trade tend to pay little attention to the issue of labour turnover. A conservative estimate says it costs about £500 to recruit a member of staff, and we are talking about bar staff and cellarmen, not managers here.

The money being wasted by not looking after staff is incredible. Put into perspective, £300m is £50m more than the recent bid for Mansfield Brewery and its 500 pub estate! It is also the same amount as the value recently attached to Pubmaster, a pub company which has 1,485 tenancies.

This turnover in staff can have serious consequences for the quality of beer, as there will inevitably be a large proportion of untrained staff still learning the ropes. This is particularly relevant to real ale, which requires skill and experience to bring to perfect condition.

Longer opening hours a step nearer

Home Secretary, Jack Straw, published a White Paper in April which reviewed the Licensing Law in England and Wales, the first such review since the current strict opening hours regulations were brought in during the First World War. This was designed to ensure that workers did not turn up drunk, thus harming the war effort.

If adopted, pubs will be able to open at hours to suit their regular custom, subject to the wishes of the Police and local residents. Though some people fear it will mean more drunkenness, there is no evidence of this. In fact, in Scotland, where the laws are already more relaxed, and in other parts of Europe where there are extended opening hours, there has actually been a decrease in drunkenness and subsequent disorderliness.

Relaxed drinking hours will mean an end to the last minute scramble to buy drinks and throw them down the neck at closing time. This practice was very prevalent in Scotland before the change of law there and is now much reduced, hence so are instances of drunkenness. CAMRA supports the relaxation of drinking hours, subject to full consultation with local residents, and welcomes the attempt to bring England and Wales into line with the rest of Europe. However, it is unlikely that the proposals will be implemented before the next General Election.

Book Reviews

CAMRA’s new recipe book Pub Superchefs brings great pub cooking into your kitchen, featuring around 170 recipes from top pub chefs to help home cooks recreate some of Britain’s best pub dishes.

Editor, Sue Nowak said, Pub chefs are winning awards, appearing on TV and radio, and even have a sprinkling of celebrity chefs in their ranks. It’s a far cry from a decade ago when pubs were the Cinderellas of the catering world, denounced by foodies for micro-waved lasagne and soggy sausage rolls.

Today many clever, creative cooks choose pubs rather than restaurants as their platform, creating superb home-made dishes from modern British to traditional and ethnic, often using the local ingredients of their region. In the 10 years that Susan Nowak has edited all five CAMRA Good Pub Food guides, pubs have become the UK’s number one eating out choice, and for good reason. Pub chefs not only dish up good value, creative menus in an informal pub setting, they know their beer and serve well-kept real ales alongside food. The new book features recipes from pub cooks contained in Good Pub Food guides.

Chapters cover every course from soups and starters through fish, meat and game to vegetarian, ethnic, snacks and desserts.

They range from sophisticated, modern concepts such as halibut with a crab, coriander and cous-cous crust to unusual vegetarian ideas like stuffed turnips braised in cider, and snacks such as Pencarreg blue cheese tartlets. Regional recipes, often being kept alive by pub cooks, include Huntingdon Fidget Pie, Jugged Yorkshire hare, Oxford bacon danger, Iaverbread rissoles and haggis creggans. Ethnic flavours range from Hokkien braised pork to Indonesian fish hot pot and Maltese apple charlotte. There is a whole section on “beer cuisine, as well as recipes for cooking with cider. Says Nowak: It is typical of pub chefs to be so generous in sharing their recipes. If you’ve enjoyed great meals in pubs, here is a chance to recreate some of the dishes in your own kitchen.

The York Pub Conservation Group have published the 2nd edition of the excellent Historic Pubs in and around York. The book covers all the genuine historic pub interiors that survive in the City of York and the surrounding parts of North Yorkshire.

Produced on an entirely voluntary basis by people with local knowledge and real care for genuine pub heritage, 23 pubs in total are covered. Concentrating on the interior features, there are plenty of photographs, plans and details of each pub to whet your appetite for a visit.

At only £1.50, this is an essential little book for any visitor to York and nearby with an interest in pub conservation.

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