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Well, the Society has been officially active for around 2 weeks now, and at first glance appears to have made an impression. The Publican covered it and then again in more depth as well as an editor's comment. The Morning Advertiser also covered it, albeit with their usual slant. If you have time, read the editor's comment in the same MA here - when all the editor can consider is the beer tie, is it any wonder freeholders like myself prefer the more balanced but soon to be defunct (we presume) Publican mag?

The number of people that completely missed the point was quite astounding - leading me recently to wonder on twitter if the SoL was a bad idea. Primarily Phil Dixon, BII Trade Consultant (?) with this absolute cracker:

"BII chief executive Neil Robertson is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever worked with and the second most influential person in the trade, according to the Morning Advertiser — how does Ed Davies think he is going to top that?"

Top that? I'm not trying to top anything. After 4 years in the trade, the only organisations I can think of that asked me for my opinions where the trade press - MA and Publican. I've been a member of the BII for 3 years - how can I get my view across to them? The FLVA popped up to say they already do what the SoL is there for - again I've never been surveyed by them. On their website they appear to be a support group primarily, again, not something I'm looking to achieve. The Guild of Master Victuallers stuck their head up to say that I'm diluting the voice of the trade. Given their blog hasn't been updated in 2 years (I only mention this as Googling for them gave their blog as the top link and their actual site didn't come up. Following the link off the blog, well, erm:

Right. So who else talks on behalf of the trade? Who is regularly mentioned in the national press whenever alcohol policy (especially taxation) crops up? Only one group I can think of - the BBPA. Regularly calling for the tax escalator to be scrapped, putting money and time behind campaigns such as I'm Backing The Pub.

On this aspect I support the BBPA - although there are some who call them the puppets of the Pubcos. It seems you can't have any links whatsoever with a large Pubco without everyone labelling you a puppet. Hell - I even got it suggested that this Society was set-up by the pubco's and pretending to be a society for all licensees before we'd hit a dozen members!

But Ted Tuppen has offered money to support a group for licensees. And I have an idea. At the moment, I've paid for the site and donated my time to building the site (mainly between midnight and 2am after my duties at the pub and as a dad have finished). This is to make it a 'free to join' group - something that everyone has raised their eyebrows at. I couldn't believe the concept of a trade body that doesn't charge it's members could be met with so much disbelief.

One of the first licensees to sign up has very kindly offered to help with the background work of the site. Pubs Galore have offered their services to validate licensees. A PR company has offered to donate some time towards advancing the aims of the group. This is the kind of atmosphere I wanted to generate within the group - licensees have such varied backgrounds, doing all sorts of jobs, that if they are willing to use their skills to better the group as a whole, for as much or as little as they can provide, the group can stay free.

What I would like to do is take Ted Tuppen's offer, and use the money to finance adverts in the National Press, highlighting the benefits of well run pubs. They might highlight the money they raise for the treasury, or highlight a sensible drinking culture which is cultivated within them. The friendliness and approachability of good pubs.

Basically, instead of thinking like a bunch of individual businesses all the time (because we are, and we do have to) we can look to portray ourselves as all working for The Great British Pub™. See us as all parts of one organisation, and the trade looks different. To me it looks better, and more professional. But time will tell