Page Updated:- Friday, 30 April, 2021.



Notes of 2020


From the East Kent Mercury, Wednesday 19 February 2020.

More than 35,000 people treated in hospital.

Shock statistics reveal county’s alcohol problem.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions in Kent and Medway have gone up by nearly a third within six years.

The latest figures show 35,130 people received treatment in 2018-19, compared to 27,550 in 2012-13.

It amounts to a rise of 27.5%, and has led to warnings that a lack of funding is hurting efforts to rehabilitate those affected - some of whom can battle their addiction for 30 years.

Penny Williams, chief executive officer of rehabilitation charity The Kenward Trust, said: "It’s a real concern because ultimately it's costing all of us far more money to keep treating people in A&E and taking up valuable nursing time and valuable resources instead of putting people through a rehab system like ours, where the costs are minimal in comparison.

"We have a very, very high success ratio putting families back together, putting people back into the community, and contributing back to society."

Ms. Williams said the Maidstone-based charity has seen a recent increase in referrals from across the country, including as far north as Nottingham.

"The government needs to think seriously about reinvesting - we've seen massive decreases of up to 16% in investment in drug and alcohol addiction, and in particular rehab because it's seen as expensive.

"But actually the reality is that it saves money longer term.

"So that's what our message is, now we've got Brexit out the way, and arguably a lot of money has been hoarded and not put through social services, we would like to see a lot more money from into this sector." In total 216,370 people in Kent and Medway ended up in A&E between 2012-13 and 2018-19 due to alcohol related issues - 65% of which were men.

Ms. Williams added: "I don’t think many other factors have changed, but arguably life is more stressful and people are turning to alcohol for self medication," she said.

"But I think fundamentally, there is so little focus on rehab being ultimately the way to change behaviours.

"It's no good just putting people on prescriptions, you need to give them time and support to overcome their addiction." The data, published by NHS Digital, shows alcohol accounted for 358,000 admissions to hospitals across England in 2018-19, a 6% rise from 2017-18.

Of these men accounted for 62% of patients, while 40% of the total were aged between 45 and 64.

Officials said those involved either had an alcohol-related disease or had injured themselves as a result of drinking too much.

Other key figures in the report included:

■ There were 5,698 deaths specifically attributed to alcohol in 2018 - 2% fewer than in 2017

■ Some 77% of alcohol-related deaths happened in people aged 40 to 69

■ People aged 65 to 74 had the highest average weekly alcohol spend of 10.60.

Alcohol is an increasingly major factor in hospital admissions in Kent and Medway.


From the Dover Express, 19 March 2020.


Leas Cliff Hall closed.

FOLKESTONE'S Leas Cliff Hall has suspended forthcoming shows in response to the latest advice surrounding coronavirus.

Among the shows put on hold is former Mike And The Mechanics frontman Paul Carrack's 2020 tour which was coming to town this Sunday.

A spokesman for ATG, which runs the venue, said: "In response to the Prime Minister's statement, advising the UK public to avoid unnecessary social contact, including theatres, we regret to inform you that shows in all Ambassador Theatre Group UK venues are temporarily suspended with immediate effect.

"We understand that this decision comes as a disappointment but ultimately we all want the same thing: the health and safety of our communities, and we believe this is the correct decision to make.

"For now, we would like to thank you for your understanding and patience, and to recognise the incredible efforts and support of producers, artists, partners and customers over this difficult period."


From the Dover Express, 19 March 2020. By Stela Gineva.


Bars are staying open amid fears for future.


PUB owners across Dover and Folkestone fear for the future as government advice tells customers to remain indoors during the coro-navirus crisis.

Landlords this week said they were facing the stark reality of what is to come.

Debbie Lane, from the "Lanes" Micropub in Worthington Street, Dover, is not going to shut down unless the government tells her to. She simply cannot afford to do so and must carry on.

She said: "We won't have business if people don't come in. I won't survive if people don't come. We’ve got some of our older customers self-isolating but like with everything you have to carry on.

"We will be staying open until the government tells us we've got to close because we can't afford not to. I think there's loads of other pubs around here in the same situation as we are.

"The government has said that they're going to give us some help but I'll have to look into it.

"I've got a lease to pay on this property as well as buying stock in as well as making a living.

"Everyone forgets you've got to pay your electricity, your staff, your water, your sewage."

But the manager of the "Lord Nelson" Riverside Bar located in Flying Horse Lane in Dover, is remaining as hopeful as he can for the moment.

He said: "At the moment trade is quiet in Dover as it is. I've got no real concerns until they actually tell the public it's a lockdown.

The "Lord Nelson" opened its doors for the first time on February 14.

Asked how it feels to deal with a crisis like coronavirus so early on, the manager added: "It's just what's happened really, isn't it?

"All we can do is keep going and try and do our best. At the moment, I'm not really concerned.

"This time of year it’s quiet in town anyway so it can be quiet during the day, but the weekends are quite good. So we haven't seen much of a sign of things slowing down."

The government has since announced a 330bn rescue package which will be available to businesses in the form of loans.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government-backed loans during a daily press conference held on Tuesday.


From the 20 March 2020.

UK pubs and restaurants told to shut in virus fight.

Cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from Friday night - except for take-away food - to tackle coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

All the UK's nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been told to close "as soon as they reasonably can".

Mr Johnson said the situation would be reviewed each month.

Meanwhile, the government said it will pay 80% of wages for employees who are not able to work, up to 2,500 a month.

The announcement about closures follows similar measures taken in other countries - including in Ireland, where pubs and bars were asked to close from last Sunday.

There have been 167 deaths in England from the coronavirus outbreak, as well as six in Scotland, three in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a daily Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson said the measures would be enforced "strictly" and that licensing arrangements would make doing so "relatively simple".

He urged people not to go out on Friday night ahead of the closures, stressing: "For now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart."

The prime minister added: "The more effectively we follow the advice we are given, the faster this country will stage both a medical and an economic recovery in full."

Speaking at the same briefing, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the new measures to help out-of-work employees were "unprecedented".

He appealed to employers to stand by their workers during the coronavirus crisis, in the wake of many firms warning of collapse.

England's deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, told reporters at the briefing that the government was not advising people against going outside.

"We are saying, if you are going to go outside, go in a way that reduces your social contact," she said.

In a separate televised address, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also asked all restaurants, cafes, pubs and cinemas to close.

First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster said the measures are "for the community's protection", while Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said the move was "the right thing to do".

The latest announcement came after Mr Johnson said on Thursday that the UK could "turn the tide" on the coronavirus outbreak within 12 weeks.

Most UK schools closed their doors to a majority of pupils indefinitely on Friday, in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

But many will reopen on Monday with a skeleton staff to accommodate the children of "key workers".


From the Dover Mercury, Thursday 26 March 2020.

'We face the fight of our lives in these unchartered waters.'

Landlords face an unprecedented challenge to ensure pubs across Kent survive the coronavirus crisis, says the chief executive of Shepherd Neame.

Jonathan Neame - whose brewery has more than 200 pubs in the county - fears the industry could struggle to emerge from the fallout of the pandemic if it continues through to the summer.

For now, "brilliant landlords and their brilliant teams" are doing what they can to adapt - and are continuing to play a big part in their communities.

Shepherd Neame itself is offering its hotels to the NHS for accommodation and donating all food at closed establishments to local food banks and the homeless. It will also do its utmost to protect its own landlords.

But Mr. Neame warns: "If this goes on for a prolonged period then it will be terminal for many outlets."

The brewery boss admits Boris Johnson's closure of all pubs, restaurants and hotels came earlier than expected.

But he welcomes Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement that the government will pay 80% of wages for employees not working.

Mr. Neame says it means there is a safety net in place, but pubs will still be hit hard.

"They can't survive for that long and if this goes on until the summer, which is their busiest trading period, it will be very difficult," he said.

"If this is a sustained outbreak and social distancing is in place for a long period of time, then it's hard to see how we will not lose part of the fabric of British culture.

"We are doing our level best, but these are unchartered waters and profoundly difficult for my team and those running businesses. We have brilliant pubs and brilliant people who work there and the level of stress and anxiety out there is very deep.

"Nobody could envisage this happening."

Despite the dark clouds gathering over the industry, many pubs are already adapting - such as offering takeaway services for both food and drink.

"In many villages in Kent, pubs have always been good at adapting their business models to suit the community," Mr. Neame said.

"At the "Three Mariners" in Oare, they have set up a village WhatsApp group which is looking out for vulnerable people and those who are self-isolating, saying if they can provide meals or help with chores they can.

"There's this wonderful sense of community involvement of people working together because they want their pub to survive."

On Friday, Mr. Neame announced a raft of measures the brewery, which has 320 pubs in total across the south east, is putting in place to try to weather the storm and protect employees, licensees and the company.

These include directors taking a 20% pay cut, suspending rent receipts from licensees, cancelling the shareholder dividend and ceasing all non-contractual capital expenditure.
The brewery is continuing to produce beer under new and strict access and hygiene controls, including deep cleans, workplace distancing measures and monitoring the temperature of employees.
Mr. Neame added: "We have the best pubs in the country and nobody wants to see them close."


From the Dover Mercury, Thursday 9 April 2020.

Worried Sharon Cullen from Wellingtons in Deal has set up a GoFundMe site to help her business get through the next couple of months.

As a relatively new business having only opened in February 2019, she needs to raise 25,000 to survive.

She said: "As a business we still have financial commitments to uphold, including but not limited to; our rent, paying our suppliers, and our gas and electric bills.

"To have survived our first year in business and then see it slip through our fingers is utterly heartbreaking, therefore, we are asking for help from those who can, during this financial crisis."

Many have had to furlough their staff and rely on other government schemes.

Senior manager Ade Rowsell, of the the "Brenchley," Maidstone, says the majority of the staff are now off work.

He said: "As a business we are just trying to seek all the help that’s being offered, but it seems to be a slow and painful process."

Bosses at the "Red Lion" in Stodmarsh, near Canterbury, insist it will reopen when the crisis is over and say they have used the time to forage and create new menus.

The upmarket tavern decided against introducing a delivery service after it was forced to close because it was felt it would not be a profitable move.

General manager Morgan Lewis said: "It’s been a total nightmare because everything’s stopped and we’re getting no income.

"Financially, we’ve obviously taken a big hit - but the government’s given some quite decent help.

"Because people have been locked up for so long, when this is over, they will be excited to get out - and we’re the sort of place that people can look forward as we do stuff that’s different."

A pregnant restaurant and bakery owner from Deal had envisaged strapping her newborn to her back as she continued work, until coronavirus arrived.

Instead, Anna Vidler and her husband Chris have had to close down The Lane cocktail bar and restaurant and sister company The Lane Bakery.

And while the pandemic is allowing them to settle into parenthood at home and enjoy precious time with their new son, it’s mixed with the emotions of having to say a temporary goodbye to staff.

They say they hope to return as strong as before but it is dependent on support from the government, not only to cover wages but also rent and bills.

She said: "It has caused us so much worry, stress and makes us really sad that we have had to say goodbye to our staff temporarily.

"We hope the government can support us as we do not want to watch our business crumble."

Peter Kray, manager of Shepherd Neame pub the "Crown" in Rochester, said: "We have received great support from Shepherd Neame. We have around 15-20 full and part-time staff at the pub who are all currently furloughed, but we hope that our team will be reunited and able to resume their normal work on full pay as soon as possible."

When the pub closed, the team donated all the unused fresh food, totalling around 400, to local charities to help the homeless.

Managers of Dartford’s "Wig and Gown," Alan Pulfer and Yvonne Rickards, said: "We’re trying to take everything day by day.

"We are not doing any deliveries, but once this is over, we are hoping to re-open as a community pub, with bands, DJs, freedom nights and other events. We’re also bringing in a new menu." Licensee of the "Ship and Lobster," Gravesend, Lizzie Brown, said: "We’re trying to make the best of the bad. We’re going to deep clean and re-decorate the bar area during the lockdown.

"We’ve had a lot of people phone up to see if we’re open and as we’re by the river path we’ve seen a lot of walkers, more than usual. But we’re, shut, we’re doing our bit and getting ready for when we can open up again."

Karensa Miller runs another Shepherd Neame pub, the "Zetland Arms" in Kingsdown near Deal, which was used for filming of ITV’s Liar.

She said: "Shepherd Neame have been very supportive during this closure. We do not want to close and we will do our best to stay open.

"We would like to be open by August if at all possible so we can get some of the summer before the winter sets in.

"I am busy decorating the inside of the pub so it’s a fresh start after this terrible time."

Pubs and restaurant owners were left devastated when it was announced they must close. Many have spoken out about the situation they are in.


From the Dover Mercury, Thursday 23 April 2020. By Oliver Kemp.

Fears that bars face closure until Christmas.

Pubs to be ‘among the last’ to have restrictions lifted.

A landlord has criticised the government for not being clearer about the reopening of pubs after the coronavirus lock-down ends - as fears grow they may stay closed until Christmas.

It comes after cabinet minister Michael Gove warned that pubs across the UK would be “among the last” to see restrictions relaxed.

Jamie Clark said without clarification from government ministers, landlords across the county are being left in the dark about the future of their business.

The 31-year-old said: “It will probably be December and it won’t surprise me to be honest.

“There’s a lot of support between pub group owners because we all want everyone to survive. We believe in the pub as a social establishment, so we’re all in it together.

“But the problem is you have so many different rumours and no one knows what’s right -we’re just having to go by what government officials say on TV right now.

“We’ve had nothing from anyone in regards to reopening.”

Despite there being no direct communication from government, Mr Clark, who co-owns the "Dead Pigeon" in Rochester, believes there will be limits to the number of people allowed in each premises once they can open their doors.

He said: “I think the smaller places will be even more restricted - say 20 to 30 people in at a time, with the social distancing. A lot of pubs and bars have been built for socialising, they’re quite compact, so yeah it wouldn’t surprise me if we’re the last to open.”

“But adapting to something when you don’t know what’s going to happen is near impossible - because you could try adapting to something that’s not even the case.”

His comments come as the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) called for urgent support for pubs to ensure they can survive the extended coronavirus lockdown.

The trade body said the government should extend and expand its business grant support scheme specifically for pubs, so they can increase their cash flow whilst they are closed.

It also said an extension of the furlough scheme for pubs could be pivotal in saving millions of jobs created by the sector.

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We all want to get back to the Great British Pub but fully understand they need to re-open under safe and sustainable conditions - both for their staff and customers.”

‘Big concern is a second peak’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signalled a cautious approach to easing lockdown measures, amid fears of a second deadly wave of infections.

Mr Johnson is said to be concerned about another peak in Covid-19 cases if restrictions are relaxed too quickly.

Mr Johnson is at Chequers recovering from his time in intensive care with the disease, according to his official spokesman. But he has spoken to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who continues to deputise for him, and senior members of his team while receiving updates on the coronavirus response.

A Downing Street spokesman told PA news agency: “The big concern is a second peak. That is what ultimately will do the most damage to health and the most damage to the economy.”

The spokesman suggested that restrictions could be modified rather than lifted entirely, adding: “If you move too quickly, that could lead to the virus spreading exponentially again.” The lockdown is scheduled to be reviewed again by May 7.


From the By Charlie Harman, 1 July 2020.

Pubs' re-opening is 'a recipe for disaster' says University of Kent's Richard Scase.

Saturday's re-opening of pubs will be "a recipe for disaster", according to a top behavioural scientist.

Richard Scase, a professor at the University of Kent, has issued a grave condemnation ahead of the lockdown easing this weekend.

Potting Shed Covid protection 2020

Pubs such as the "Potting Shed" near Maidstone have been installing measures to reduce the risk of infections.

Pubs, bars and restaurants have been shut since March 16 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but will welcome guests on Saturday alongside museums and art galleries.

The academic welcomed the latter, but believes it is too soon for drinking establishments to open their doors again - a view he claims is shared by many in his field.

He said: "Like lots of medics and behavioural scientists, I have lots of concerns about what's going to happen this weekend.

"I don't think I'm the only behavioural scientist to say that to ease or end the lockdown on a Saturday is a misjudgement, I think it should've been announced in the middle of the week rather than the weekend.

Richard Scase 2020

Richard Scase is Emeritus professor at the University of Kent and a business forecaster.

"This great celebration people are talking about coming up this weekend, what with the opening of pubs and restaurants, I think is a recipe for disaster."

On the whole, though criticising the delay in implementing the lockdown initially, Professor Scase believes the government effort has been "incredibly successful" despite the sometimes confusing messaging.

The emeritus professor of organisational behaviour believes a vast majority of the UK population have been socially responsible, but did note that younger people - believing they will not suffer the same degree of symptoms as the older population - have been less abiding of the regulations.

His greatest fear is that social distancing in many drinking establishments will be "impossible" due to space constraints.

He said: "The virus has not gone away, it's still there as the Prime Minister has pointed out on a number of occasions and to have this great opening - this great celebration - is very irresponsible and I think puts on the agenda to an increasing extent the potential of a second wave in a few weeks time.

"Certainly the pubs I go into there's no way social distancing rules can be enforced by the bar staff - it's just impossible.

"That I think is very, very worrying whereas the opening of museums and art galleries, that can be controlled and managed but I think bars and restaurants is a totally different matter altogether."


From the 3 July 2020

Coronavirus: Pubs can't open in England until 6am as lockdown eased.

Pubs in England will not be allowed to open until 06:00 BST on Saturday, No 10 has confirmed.

Most of the latest lockdown easing measures will come into force at 00:01 across the country.

But Downing Street said the later opening time for pubs was a "sensible precaution" to avoid midnight parties.

Boris Johnson will urge the public to act "safely and sensibly" at a press conference at 17:00 on Friday.

Many businesses - including restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and cinemas - will be allowed to open their doors for the first time since March.

The pub industry said the reopening was "fantastic" but urged customers to respect staff and changes in practices.

Pub-goers are being encouraged to book tables in advance, while live gigs and standing at the bar will not be allowed.

Downing Street said normal licensing rules would still apply, so pubs can only serve alcohol at the usual time they are allowed, but some establishments open early to serve breakfasts and coffee.

In Northern Ireland, pubs, bars, hotels and cafes are reopening on Friday while, in Scotland, hospitality venues with outdoor space will open their doors on Monday. No date has yet been set in Wales.

The 35,000 or so pubs and small bars trading in England have been closed since 20 March.

The majority of them will be opening up again on Saturday, after the prime minister announced a significant relaxation of lockdown measures last week, along with an easing of social distancing rules from 2m to "one metre plus".

Speaking on LBC Radio, Mr Johnson rejected suggestions that opening pubs on a Saturday was a recipe for trouble, suggesting it would have made little difference to wait until Monday.

"I hope people will do this safely and sensibly...My message is let's not blow it now folks".

Dubbed "Super Saturday" in some quarters, there may be nerves in Number 10 as they look to see how people respond to a further easing of lockdown.

Hence, later on Friday, Boris Johnson will urge people to be "responsible".

Messaging and tone are important in a public health crisis; and Labour's accused the prime minister of getting his messaging and tone wrong before crowds flocked to Bournemouth beach in June.

Of course, in all directions, there are risks. Yes, there's the risk of seeing the virus spread but there are also the risks that come with keeping the economy in the deep freeze.

But another reason ministers will want to avoid any scenes of disorder or disarray; no government wants to look like it's losing control.

At the No 10 briefing later, Mr Johnson will be joined by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

The PM is expected to say the move to ease lockdown is about "supporting the livelihoods of business owners and their employees up and down the country".

"Just as when we first locked down, we will only succeed in reopening if everyone works together. Because we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still with us and the spike in Leicester has shown that."

The PM will also reiterate that the government "will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restrictions" if there is a spike in the virus as a result of the changes.

The rule change comes days after a local lockdown was put in place in Leicester because of a spike in cases.

Businesses and schools in the city will have to remain closed, with residents advised not to travel.

Emergency service chiefs have also appealed to pub goers to behave responsibly this weekend.

In a joint statement, representatives of the police, fire and ambulance services urged people to drink in moderation, to observe social distancing and reassess their plans if conditions are not safe.

The BBC's Danny Savage said the emergency services were preparing in the same way they would do for the Friday night before Christmas.

The British Beer and Pubs Association has urged people to respect the hygiene measures in place and to be supportive of landlords and pub staff.

"If we all work together we can ensure that the reopening of pubs and hospitality is a success and an enjoyable experience for everyone," it said.

However, there are signs that some people will be reluctant to return. Pollsters Ipsos-Mori said 60% of the 1,000 people they spoke to said they would be uncomfortable going to a bar or restaurant.

What about the rest of the UK?

Each UK nation's lockdown measures differ, including varying rules on the reopening of food and drink outlets.

In Northern Ireland, pubs and restaurants are reopening on Friday.

In Scotland, beer gardens and outdoor restaurants will be allowed to reopen from 6 July, and indoor areas can be used from 15 July.

The Welsh government has promised talks with the hospitality sector about a "potential phased" reopening, but no dates have yet been given.


From the Dover Mercury, 11 November, 2020.

Sheps counts the cost of lockdown.

Brewery Shepherd Neame says the first national lockdown was "profoundly expensive" as it recorded a loss of 12.1million in its annual financial figures for the year up to June 27.

Jonathan Neame 2020

Chief executive of the Faversham firm, which runs pubs and hotels across the South East, Jonathan Neame, explained:- "I don’t think the company has ever declared a loss before.

"A large proportion is a paper loss as we’ve had to write down some assets. So its a 2.9m actual operating loss underlying with 9m additional losses on top.

"Now, we are most focused on our ability to recover."

While coastal pubs fared well when restrictions were eased during the summer, town and city centre venues felt the strain and he admitted it will be disposing of three of its London pubs.


From the Dover Mercury, 28 November, 2020.

Police give ‘knife wands’ to help bars

A knife wand is presented to Rhino and Bull's in Dover.

Knife wands have been handed out to 10 pubs and bars in Dover and Deal to stop dangerous objects being taken in.

It’s hoped use of the metal detecting devices will stop people from carrying weapons in the towns.

P.C. Dannii Rolfe, of Dover’s community safety unit, said:- "There is no excuse for carrying a weapon of any kind in Kent and we will seek the prosecution of anyone who does so.

"We are very pleased with the response from staff in bars and pubs in Dover and Deal and welcome their help, along with partner agencies, in our ongoing work to confront the issue."

The initiative was funded by the Dover Community Safety Partnership with funds from the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and Kent crime commissioner Matthew Scott has welcomed the introduction.


From the Dover Express, Thursday, 1 April 2021.

Outside bookings boost for pubs and restaurants.

Pubs and restaurants have seen a huge surge in bookings for outdoor tables ahead of lockdown restrictions being eased next month, according to research.

Hospitality website said millions of people were making reservations for the two weeks after April 12. spokesman Neil Pattiso said:- "Hospitality businesses have been unfairly subjected to tighter restrictions than other sectors throughout the pandemic and our research shows just how eager people are to get back into hospitality venues.

"As we’ve seen over the last year, businesses have gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of customers.

"Many have remodelled to allow for more outdoor space enabling them to remain open within safety guidelines."

A survey of 2,000 adults showed a third believed the hospitality sector should be allowed to reopen indoors sooner than the planned date of May 17, said the report.

Just over half of respondents said hospitality venues have higher cleanliness and Covid-19 safety precautions than other industries and public spaces, such as supermarkets.