I’ve now spoken to both the Operations Manager for Fuller’s (Gary Anderson) and to the manager of the Melton Mowbray (Jo Farquhar). The story is that the ban on children is not a condition of the license, as I was told by the duty manager, but is at the discretion of, well, it isn’t entirely clear who. Anderson seemed to think that policy on admission of children was the ultimate decision of individual licensees, with due input from Head Office, whereas Farquhar wasn’t sure who the decision rested with. The policy is Central London-wide, which suggests that it’s corporate policy.
The reason given for the policy was that City pubs weren’t appropriate for children, and several times it was suggested that we should visit their other pubs in the suburbs, despite my explaining that we’d gone to the Mowbray from Southampton specifically to meet friends who had booked the downstairs bar for a function. There are City pubs which accept children (such as those in the JPW estate, as
I also raised the issue of inadequate signage and information to both managers. They both said flatly that there was no possibility of putting signage outside the pub to indicate that children were unwelcome. I discussed the Fuller’s website with Anderson; in its pub listing, it notes certain pubs as ‘child-friendly’, but there is no explicit statement that non-child-friendly pubs have a de facto ban on children. In short, that which is not permitted is implicitly prohibited. Anderson confirmed that the website was to be updated (was it ever thus?), which isn’t much consolation.
Both insisted that they had a commitment to ongoing staff training, and would make sure that staff did not give customers (or potential customers) incorrect information regarding the license and policy of the establishment.
So, not particularly satisfactory. It would have been unlikely that we would be visiting the Melton Mowbray en famille in the future, unless other circumstances meant that we were in London in the early evening on the right day, but it’s now out of the question. We’re not going to be boycotting Fuller’s, despite my gut feelings, because our local is now a Fuller’s pub (having been a Gale’s pub until the takeover), but I can’t say that I’m pleased with the outcome.