Over the last fifteen months, due to the coronavirus lockdowns and various other layers of restrictions, the pub trade has had a really tough time. Inevitably there have been casualties with some pubs now closed for good. Most have barely broken even due to the restricted numbers they can accommodate, a long period where they could only serve customers in an outside area and the sheer amount of money spent on making outside areas as welcoming as possible and ensuring the pub met all of the coronavirus regulations.
Pub regulars have missed the camaraderie of meeting up at their local and socialising. For some people living on their own, a visit to the pub was the only time they would be able to meet up with others for a natter and a pint. Everyone has felt more isolated and atomised as a consequence of fifteen months of lockdowns and restrictions. So, when an opportunity arises for people to bond over something they have in common and enjoy the company of others, some banter and a bit of singing, it’s understandable that they’ll grab it with both hands. That opportunity is the participation of the England team in the Euros and the ability to be able to go to your local pub and watch a game, albeit with a number of coronavirus restrictions still in place.
Given that everyone has been cooped up for the last fifteen months, it’s not surprising that given the chance, some people will go over the top when it comes to letting off a bit of steam. That is what appears to have happened at the Railway Tavern in Stanford-le-Hope on Friday 18 June when England played Scotland in the Euros: Pub apologises for Covid breach but is critical of top councillor’s comment. Mistakes were made in managing the attendance at the pub and the owners were totally honest about that, apologised, discussed what went wrong and why, worked out an action plan to ensure it wouldn’t happen again and submitted that to the police on Monday 21 June.
All of that was not good enough for Thurrock Council who sent round an environmental officer (unmasked) to issue a closure notice for the pub when England were playing. There was no discussion about the plan that had been put in place to ensure there would be no repeat of what happened on the previous Friday. To add insult to injury, the leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr. Rob Gledhill made a number of remarks which weren’t exactly going to help the situation: Covid breach pub is closed for England matches starting tonight.
Gledhill’s remarks can best be described as virtue signalling playing to the gallery. There was no willingness to enter into a dialogue to work together to find a solution. You do wonder if the former leader of Basildon Council and now former councillor, Gavin Callaghan, has been imparting his expertise on shooting his mouth off without thinking things through first to Gledhill! Our advice to Gledhill is to not follow the example set by Callaghan but instead, try a bit of tact, diplomacy and co-operation in dealing with situations like this.