17th July 2020
- Scotland. In a call with the Scottish Government today we were informed that confirmation was being sought fo High Street Arcades to open next week on 22nd July. Seaside arcades are slated for opening ‘not before’ 31st July. Whilst we are pleased are lobbying has been successful in relation to High Street arcades the news on seaside arcades was something of a shock. We will continue to lobby over the weekend to see if we can get the opening date brought forward to 22nd too. If not there will be hardly anything lefty of the season
- Wales. We have at last been able to engage with Welsh Government meaningfully over re-opening. It looks like 3rd of August for both FECs and AGCs. Again I am pressing hard for an earlier opening and we do have support at official level. Our guidance has been well received.
- England. We had good feedback from Divisions 1 and 3 this week. Clearly things are not where they would be if we hadn’t had a pandemic but people are pleased to be open and are getting back into the rhtymn of the trade. It is still going to be incredibly tough, especially for our seasonal businesses, and out lobbying case for all bacta members will be for a 5% rate of VAT and MGD and on-going business rates relief for seasonal businesses.
- Guidance. I will be making some tweaks to our guidance over the weekend. Please check the bacta website for the latest iteration. It will cover waste disposal and has been requested by Government. Whilst on guidance can I please again remind members (and indeed non-members) how important it is to follow what we have agreed to do. There were some very frustrated members on the calls this week highlight very poor compliance from other operators. This simply isn’t acceptable. From a bacta point of view if we are seen as untrustworthy we will have no influence with Government going forward. If members are concerned about what they see can I suggest you contact one of our Membership Support Officers.
- Casinos and Bowling Alleys in England can open from 1st August.
Machines in Pubs – Whilst much less of a problem in England following the Home Office circulate to Police Forces that pool tables etc are perfectly OK to make available to customers, in Scotland the situation has got progressively worse with an email, purportedly from the Scottish Government doing the rounds of Local Authorities saying machines, pool table and juke boxes need to be off. It looks like and old recommendation, but it is causing a real headache for operators. We have worked with the Scottish licensed trade trade bodies and the good news is that the Scottish Government is going to make it clear, we are told, that there is no problem with machines being available in pubs, subject to proper risk assessments and mitigations being in place. The bad news is we can’t get that in writing until next week.
- Wales – the ongoing battle over rates has hit a new level with one Council demanding the repayment of a grant to a member. Who would have thought that a local council charged with helping local businesses get through this crisis, would seek to try to drive one out of business. We have written several letters on this subject this week and have now escalated it to the media. Chairman, Richard Case was on HTV on Monday and next week we have a full range of TV and print media picking up the story. We cannot let this happen.
Extended season for Caravan Parks and similar – In a good win for the Tourism Alliance, MHCLG has this week laid a Written Ministerial Statement that encourages Local Authorities to allow holiday and caravan parks to extend their season and not to undertake enforcement action which would unnecessarily restrict the ability of caravan and holiday parks to extend their open season. This may be of value to some members operating machines in such venues. Here’s a copy of the Written Statement https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-07-14/HCWS367/ And here is a copy of the associated Guidance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-planning-update-on-cultural-venues-and-holiday-parks–2
- The guidance on what visitor attraction entry fees can charge 5% VAT is clear as mud. Fairs and Amusement Parks are listed but members have been asking me about ticket prices for crazy golf courses, entrance to piers, or rides (which in other circumstances might form part of a fair). I suspect it will be local VAT inspectors that will end up determining the answer to some of these questions but if any member has received any helpful advice from any source it would be good if I could share it via these Updates.
As always please feel to get in touch with questions or comments on any of the above.
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