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Neil tells us there is a defibrillator on the wall of the pub which sits at the end of the lane leading to Taylor Towers (his 47,000 hectare estate in Hampshire, moated on three sides by a flamingo lake) and that only those who have seen all of the ER box-sets are qualified to use it. Who doesn't want to waggle electrically charged paddles above the chest of someone and scream, "CLEAR"? How hard can it be to bring someone back from the brink to hear stories of a white light and hovering above people's heads, realising for the first time how rubbish their hairlines are? We have all seen it done dozens of times on hospital dramas sponsored, presumably, by The Open University as part of their online degree in medicine.
He reported to us that today he almost had to use it on Gareth, the publican of his local, The Brickmakers, who had just read the headline on the NTI news bulletin 'Publicans Owe £800 Million in Business Tax'. Apparently his first drink of the day mixed up his plurals. So we have hurriedly re-worded the headline having learned that thousands of pubs across the UK could be forced to 'call time' (get it?) as they face a looming £800 million business rates bill, their trade association has said. We think the trade association for pubs is H.I.C., but we will have to check.
The British Beer & Pub Association (oh yes, that's it, the BPPA) believes the bill, which could be due in March and amount to an average cost of £25,000 per rate-paying pub, could be 'the last straw for many' and force them to close for good. Pub sector specific relief on Business Rates will end as planned, it seems, in March 2021 and publicans are unhappy about that.
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Given that all these pubs made it through the lockdown - over 15 weeks without being able to open their doors - and have remained viable businesses despite social distancing and significantly lower footfall, it would be devastating for them to fall at the final hurdle in the post-lockdown recovery." We know, Emma, but isn't it the same for us all as HMRC with whopping great VAT bills, credit card companies, mortgagees and God-knows-who-else open the doors of their 'Debt Chasing Divisions' again and seek redress for this weird period of stayed actions and stalled debt?
The UK’s beer and pub sector employs a total of 900,000 people, including 600,000 workers who are directly employed in pubs, 558,000 of who are either 14 or clinically obese. A rather miffed Treasury spokesman, nursing her lunchtime half and thinking about all those other 'special cases' whose 'Worried From Tunbridge Wells Notes' are piling up in her in-tray, said: “We have stood by pubs and the communities they serve throughout the pandemic, providing targeted support for the sector including business rates holidays and cash grants of up to £25,000." What she didn't say is, "Get a grip. You're open now, run your business and make plans for the future." Instead she poured the last dregs of her Thai-flavoured dry roast peanuts into her mouth and moved discreetly to the door.