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Children and the Melton Mowbray Redux

I've now spoken to both the Operations Manager for Fuller's (Gary Anderson) and to the manager of the Melton Mowbray (Jo Farquhar). The story is that the ban on children is not a condition of the license, as I was told by the duty manager, but is at the discretion of, well, it isn't entirely clear who. Anderson seemed to think that policy on admission of children was the ultimate decision of individual licensees, with due input from Head Office, whereas Farquhar wasn't sure who the decision rested with. The policy is Central London-wide, which suggests that it's corporate policy.

The reason given for the policy was that City pubs weren't appropriate for children, and several times it was suggested that we should visit their other pubs in the suburbs, despite my explaining that we'd gone to the Mowbray from Southampton specifically to meet friends who had booked the downstairs bar for a function. There are City pubs which accept children (such as those in the JPW estate, as thegreatgonzo pointed out in my previous post), which puts the lie to such a broad statement. Anderson gave the smoky atmosphere as one way in which the pub was an inappropriate environment, to which I could only agree and point out that I deemed this an acceptable risk because the group who had booked the downstairs bar are predominantly non-smokers (I certainly couldn't see nor smell anyone smoking - was this actually the case?). I decided not to ask whether this policy decision would be revisited when the inevitable smoking ban comes in, because both Anderson and Farquhar had made it clear that the policy was inviolate and would not be changing.

I also raised the issue of inadequate signage and information to both managers. They both said flatly that there was no possibility of putting signage outside the pub to indicate that children were unwelcome. I discussed the Fuller's website with Anderson; in its pub listing, it notes certain pubs as 'child-friendly', but there is no explicit statement that non-child-friendly pubs have a de facto ban on children. In short, that which is not permitted is implicitly prohibited. Anderson confirmed that the website was to be updated (was it ever thus?), which isn't much consolation.

Both insisted that they had a commitment to ongoing staff training, and would make sure that staff did not give customers (or potential customers) incorrect information regarding the license and policy of the establishment.

So, not particularly satisfactory. It would have been unlikely that we would be visiting the Melton Mowbray en famille in the future, unless other circumstances meant that we were in London in the early evening on the right day, but it's now out of the question. We're not going to be boycotting Fuller's, despite my gut feelings, because our local is now a Fuller's pub (having been a Gale's pub until the takeover), but I can't say that I'm pleased with the outcome.

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Might it be worth sending this on to various people in the Circle? - the Circle does after all have a history of changing venues when presented with fuckwit barstaff.

Isn't this is the equivalent of invoking Godwin's Law for this crowd?

Given how long it took London fandom to find a pub that was acceptable to the majority, and that we're unlikely to be frequent visitors en famille, I can't bring myself to kick up a stink...

This Is My Hollow Laugh....

No, no chance. Why on earth would 98% of ton atendees care about children being present, except as a bad thing?

(I assume that when you say 'the Circle,' you mean the ton, which some people have taken to calling 'the London Circle' for, well, no reason at all, really.)

N: There are smokers, including myself, but we tend to stick ourselves near the edges of the room....

you mean the ton

Or even the Tun...

Why on earth would 98% of ton atendees care about children being present, except as a bad thing?

Speaking as a (very) irregular attendee, I wouldn't care to patronise a pub that invented arbitrary and undocumented rules that excluded friends of mine.

Quite apart from the annoyance of such actions, nothing spoils the taste of beer like a pub attitude that says "we view you solely as a resource stream"; I appreciate that this is to a certain extent inevitable in a pub large enough to hold the first-Thursdays, but it still speaks volumes about the management's attitude.

After all, people left the One Tun (at least partly) because the landlord was a homophobic bigot; I doubt if the entirety of the group were LGB in 1987.

That's about what you can expect. "It's not legal" makes most people go away, whereas "It's policy not to" makes people argue with you pointlessly. After a dozen pointless arguments, which do you say next time a customer comes in with a baby? It's not clever, but it's pretty understandable.

Pubs are trying to find a niche, this is a country where even a village often has three or more pubs (the one where I grew up still has five I think), each with a unique character. A lot of those niches aren't terribly compatible with screaming infants. Certainly given the choice I'd rather talk with friends in an environment free of crying and screaming. Now, there are at any time a lot of parents with young children, and those people want to go out and meet up with friends too, so there's always going to be somewhere you can go, it's just apparently not a Fuller's pub in a city center.


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