It may come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that what I say can be “snobbish nonsense”. Well, so says blogger Phil Mellows. I’ve been accused of much worse, and this latest criticism did make me laugh. (Mr Mellows blog is called ‘The Politics of Drinking‘).
At a recent meeting of the London Road Local Action Team (which brings together local residents, business and community groups in and around London Road, Brighton), the possibility was raised of Wetherspoons opening a pub in the recently converted Co-op building.
I suggested that if Wetherspoons was considering applying for an alcohol licence they should expect “the mother of all fights“. London Road is the up and coming area in Brighton. There has been tens of millions of Pounds investment in the area, including investment in new student accommodation, the fabulous refurbishment of the Open Market and associated housing, as well as the arrival of some new great places to eat, including Alcampo Lounge and Semolina (you must try their Sunday roasts). Already there are Bardsleys Fish and Chips and Eastern Eye, one of my favourite Indian restaurants.
The Cascade Recovery Cafe in Baker Street is a very welcome addition, providing a safe and dry cafe for men and women in recovery from addiction.
So the possible arrival of a Wetherspoons is just what London Road does not need. We just don’t need a large, ‘vertical’ drinking venue.
Phil Mellows doesn’t agree with me, accusing me of “snobbish nonsense”. He is not alone. Mr Terry Collman said of my opposition to Wetherspoons: “Andy Winter is a typical middle-class do-gooder who wishes to police every aspect of other people’s entertainment, and if anything should be stopped it’s people like him having anything to do with public policy.”. (If I was a candidate in the forthcoming elections I might just put Mr Mellows and Mr Collman down as ‘undecided’).
Mr. Mellows has said on his blog that Wetherspoons pubs are generally well-run, treat their staff well, and the chain is moving upmarket with craft ales and unusual gins.
“It’s true that at one time Weatherspoon was among those operators opening ‘superpubs’ on the new drinking circuits of the 1990s, but a Spoons these days is one of your best bets for finding a seat at a table because there are so many chairs. (That’s one reason I take my 86-year-old mum there.)
“A Spoons on London Road is not going to drag the area down, as Winter and others seem to think. It will attract an audience beyond middle class trendies, if that’s what they’re worried about.
“And if Wetherspoon wins this ‘mother of all fights’, as I fully expect it to, since it’s used to countering this sort of snobbish nonsense, they’ll find me in there, too.”
This is, clearly, the beginning of the mother of all fights.
There is just one thing about Mr Mellows, as revealed by the rather excellent Brighton and Hove News (which, for the record, is never guilty of snobbish nonsense!). Mr Mellows is more than just a blogger. He writes for the Morning Advertiser, the publicans’ trade magazine, as well as for other industry publications. Oh, yes, and one other thing, Mr Mellows writes for Wetherspoons News!