Mick Dennison column

Mick Dennison.
Mick Dennison.

A reader survey from the pub trade magazine, Publican’s Morning Advertiser (PMA), on the wellbeing of publicans has revealed significant numbers are struggling under the weight of worries about their money, housing, family and health.

Pub life certainly seems to be taking its toll on licensees with many saying they are suffering from stress, depression and general dissatisfaction with their circumstances.

I know there will be people who will say, “There is never a poor publican”, and that also used to be said about farmers, but unless you have something like a thriving city centre free house (and we don’t have a thriving city centre here in Morecambe), or an idyllic country pub, you won’t get rich quick round here.

Research carried out last month by the Office for National Statistics put publicans at the bottom of a happiness league of 274 occupations.

If we go back in time, we would see a situation where pubs opened at 11.30am, closed at 3pm and didn’t open again until 6pm. Licensees probably put their feet up for a few hours before the early evening rush, then locked up at 11pm. You couldn’t buy alcohol in a supermarket and even off licences had restrictive hours.

You now have a situation in which publicans are effectively open for a full 12-hour stretch, hoping for a rush at any time of day. Most of them won’t hire staff in the earlier hours of the pub opening and stand there themselves. Of course, his or her work hasn’t started the minute the doors are open. There are many jobs to do before the first pint has been pulled.

Add to all of that the worries of falling trade and the lack of cash flow combined with miserly bank managers and it’s easy to see where the stress and depression is coming from.

This week some pubs will be celebrating St George’s Day, a time hopefully to fill the venues in town but to be honest, I’m not holding my breath. It seems that we as a country and especially this town have forgotten about national pride unless there is a World Cup taking place.