Andy Woods and I were walking to Clerkenwell for meetings on the day after the Grenfell Tower fire. It hit us both pretty dramatically as we were walking through central London to think that, only four miles away from where we were, the terrible scenes at the Tower were unfolding. It’s very easy to take for granted, when walking around London, what might be happening outside your own sphere of activity. This feeling was underlined the following day, when I noticed the anti-tank blocks that had been placed on Waterloo Bridge, as I was walking over to Waterloo Station.
It was only when we were having a meeting with one of our most significant clients, fabric, that Andy and I started to realise the huge impact that the fire and terrorist activities were having on licensed premises. The guys at fabric were telling me that they have had 24 hour, 7 days a week security at the premises ever since the Bali bombing, and are acutely conscious that they provide a potential target for the ongoing terrorist threat. This is not something that operators of mine and Andy have had to deal with until relatively recently. It brought this into sharp focus when I looked at the operating manual for fabric and saw the security measures that have been put in place, not just for trading nights, but to ensure that the premises are maintained as a safe environment.
I was then talking to the managing director of Arc Inspirations, Martin Wolstencroft, and he was telling me of the profound effect the Manchester bomb had had on their staff. Their Banyan premises are very close to the site of the Arena bombing and the immediate aftermath was felt first hand by their fantastic staff. Martin and Anni were on the way over to give their staff the support they needed after dealing with circumstances they would have never envisaged having to deal with until that night. I know that Anna’s clients at the Manchester235 Casino also helped many of the walking wounded who ended up at their premises as they fled that attack.
We had already been discussing how we were going to provide our clients with additional services around compliance, risk assessments and regulatory issues and again this was brought into sharp focus by the Grenfell Tower fire. James and I had a meeting with Chris Horner of Horner Salus to see how we could progress our relationship in these ever increasingly trying times. Horner Salus (www.hornersalus.com) and Woods Whur have worked together to ensure fabric achieved their ISO benchmarking very quickly last year. We were delighted with the speed that Chris Horner and his team turned around the instructions at a critical time for the fabric appeal. In addition we worked with them for the licensing of the Printworks at the former Daily Mail/Evening Standard offices and printworks at Canada Water in South London. Chris and his team prepared all of the event safety, fire safety and other regulatory policies for the Printworks, which helped the process no end in securing a premises licence for this fantastic new addition to the London entertainment scene. We have found that the quality of the work that they carry out is so high that we are delighted to have now entered into a strategic relationship with them to assist us in helping our clients by providing a consultancy service for these key areas of due diligence and compliance.
We really cannot stress how important it is that these issues are given serious weight. I understand that budgets can sometimes be tight, but it is our experience that the cost of rectifying breaches, dealing with investigations, fighting prosecutions and facing potentially huge financial penalties is always higher than getting the systems in place from the outset.
This was emphasised again when I had our quarterly catch-up meeting with Innpacked in Bournemouth (www.innpacked.com). Innpacked and Woods Whur have been in a strong relationship now for well over eighteen months after we decided to link in with them to provide training for our clients. Prior to that I had held accreditations for Woods Whur with BIIAB and Highfield Awarding Body. We felt that we were better placed having a relationship with Innpacked, who could provide the service much more cost effectively for us than we can. The real benefit for us is that I now get to work with Ian, Kat, David and Kelli which is a huge bonus as they are all fabulous people and catch-up meetings usually end up with a good healthy social! Many of our clients have now moved over to Innpacked to deliver their training but I was reminded this week by Ian and Kat that their capacity is far greater than just licensing training: they can also assist with a consultancy approach to risk assessments and a full suite of qualifications around health and safety, first aid and so on.
James Thompson and I are really pleased that we have this strength in depth through our relationship with Horner Salus and Innpacked to deal with often forgotten areas of regulatory compliance. We will be looking to our services in this sector and will be looking to hold a seminar later in the autumn.
One horror story came to us this week, when we were told that, upon a multi-million pound conversion of a large, almost derelict, building into a multi-operator leisure site, the developer had not put a fire alarm system in for the rebuild and fit out period. They didn’t believe this was necessary even though they had a significant number of staff on site and this had to be rectified very quickly!