I HAVE been the owner of the Toucan public house, Carlisle Street, for the last 18 years and have seen the huge increase in customers taking to the streets over the years.
One of the main reasons for this has been the smoking ban, as a majority of pub customers smoke as well as drink, and are therefore forced to stand outside in all weathers.
I was interested to read Mark Teverson’s comments (Soho pubs out on the pavement, July 1). I do need to point out his comment about pubs not contributing any extra to the rates collected is incorrect.
Pub rates are based on fair maintainable trade and unlike any other retail premises are based on the profits that pubs make and declare to the Revenue, who in turn set the rateable value of every pub in the land.
So any increase in turnover due to extra customers, whether inside the establishment or outside on the street, contributes to extra profits that are assessed and included in the rates paid by pubs.
I would generally agree with him that many pubs are not managing the number of people on the street. I must admit we have been guilty of this on a number of occasions ourselves. After a recent complaint to the licensing officer about our failure to sometimes be effective with our measures, I decided that if we marked the pavement with a white line and reinforced this with barriers to educate our customers, and our staff, that we must allow pedestrians a right of way on the footpath, we might manage this situation better.
Over the past few weeks this approach has worked well. Then the licensing officer received a complaint from the council’s street management team that such pavement markings and barriers were not legal and must be removed immediately.
Yet the licensing officer admitted to me that where barriers have been in use for some time outside previous trouble spots, the situation has been greatly improved by measures such as these. Unfortunately we are being forced to remove these measures outside our pub which seems to me to be a backward step and will make it much harder to manage and control.
Ultimately, maybe, the only solution on these busy evenings in Soho would be to restrict traffic after 6pm and install a 10mph speed limit on all the roads to protect not only visitors but also residents and allow Soho to flourish for the benefit of all.
COLIN TAYLOR, The Toucan, W1
Published: 8 July, 2011