In about 1999 Labour enacted a new Health & Safety law.

Until then any pub could stage occasional enertainment with 1 or 2 entertainers with no paperwork whatsoever, under the "2 in a bar" rule.

Many pubs used this for folk singers or kareoke. Some had aspiring stand up comics. Some had talent nights. A few even had one stripper once or twice a week. For many pubs this was an essential lifeline when finances were tight. It was easy, there were no complex forms or assessments, no licencing hearings, fees or delays.

Then Labour introduced compulsory Health & Safety assessments, even for one stand up comic appearing for an hour twice a year. The cost of expert assesments could easy be the cost of a barman/woman's wages for a year. And that was without expensive H&S adaptations in case the perfectly ordinary pub suddenly became unsafe. Measures seen as appropriate for crowded pubs with off-West End theates upstairs and audiences of 100s packed into small spaces were applied equally to rural pubs with 10 customers and 3 exits.

Result? Overnight closure of many small struggling pubs including my favourite, The Fort.

This is H&S overkill. And anyone who says won't it being back strippers, I say they were in most towns until then, and had been for at least 20 years, on an occasional discreet basis. By all means have licencing for all-day 7-day-a-week establishments that don't do anything else, but this ban closed struggling community pubs. It destroyed a financial safety valve, diversity, and directly lead to concentration of all-day 7-day-a-week establishments specialising in pole dancers because only the big operators could afford the operating costs. And that concentration is not a good thing for custoers, neighbours or dancers.

Why is this idea important?

Small pubs need a financial safety valve or they will go out of business.

Heavy duty health and safety assessments are simply not appropriate for occasional small scale entertainment.

There has been a loss of varied enterainment.

Control of suitable venues has been concentrated in a few hands.

It is a pointless waste of money.

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