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Wake-up call to politicians

In an election that has focused on the personalities rather than the politics, the needs of the hospitality industry have become blurred. Yet it is one of the biggest employers in the country.

Caterer asked a cross-section of the industry what were the crucial areas in hospitality not addressed by the political parties in their manifestos, and how they would like the politicians to deal with these issues.

Chris Bodker, director, Moving Image Restaurants, London

They haven’t paid hospitality any attention whatsoever, even though we’re one of the biggest employers in the country. They need to look at us more. They need to rid us of all the red tape we have to work with. They need to sort out the licensing laws properly and thoughtfully, rather than just talking about it, and they need to free up planning legislation.

Andrew Buchanan, operations director, the Scotsman Hotel Group

A minister for tourism would be good. It wouldn’t be a panacea for all our problems, but it would help if we had someone whose brief was devoted entirely to our industry. We need assistance to help sell Britain as a destination.

Philip Davidson, owner, Craven Arms, Newbury, Berkshire

The political parties should commit themselves to sorting out the licensing laws. They’ve been talking about it since 1994 and still nothing has happened. They need to clarify the situation once and for all. Unfortunately it’s not a vote-puller.

Tim Martin, chairman, Wetherspoons

I don’t think any [politicians] are alive to the consequences of continuing regulation, which is symbolised for me in the proposed licensing White Paper. What it is suggesting will mean massive upheaval for us. The Government’s own figures show it will result in more expense and make us all have to relearn the law for no gain.

Martin Cummings, owner, Amberley Castle, West Sussex

They should also be more positive about the euro. It’s a huge opportunity and it would be madness not to be part of it.

Bill Toner, chief executive, Aramark

I’m disappointed that once again our industry has been unrepresented in all the manifestos given our position as employers to about 10% of the workforce. We need our own voice in Parliament and it needs to be a minister.

Pat Wood, owner, September Brasserie, Blackpool

The foot-and-mouth crisis made it clear that there needs to be someone looking out for tourism high up in the Government. If we had had a minister of our own, he or she would have realised instantly the disaster of closing down the country like they did.

Ian Rickwood, chief executive, Benjy’s, London

I think all the parties need to be aware that the foot-and-mouth crisis, the continuing red tape on employment legislation and other tax-related charges have increased costs in the hospitality industry. The Government has a role to play in helping to keep retail prices low – it can’t just be left to a few of us.

Jane Sunley, managing director, Mayday catering staff agency, London

None of the parties have said they will do anything about tax on childcare. As there is no tax relief on money paid out for childcare, people end up, in effect, being taxed twice on this money. Easier childcare would obviously help hospitality recruitment.

Mark Gabriel, owner, Mise en Place, Bluewater, Kent

I don’t think any of them have given any attention to hospitality. They still look on us as a third-rate industry, even though we are such a major employer in this country, and that feeds through to the public. It makes it difficult for us to recruit among the younger generation. The parties should be more positive about our industry.

Robin Hutson, managing director, Hotel du Vin group

None of the political parties has got to grips with the red tape affecting this industry, and I don’t think they understand the burden we are faced with. There are layers and layers of regulations we have to deal with and successive governments have done nothing about it.

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