Burnley Hospitality Hell: Kettledrum Inn fighting one of the toughest battles in its 161-year history

The owners of Cliviger's Kettledrum Inn have decided to "see it through" despite the fact they see no foreseeable exit plan from lockdown.
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Brothers Steve and Robin Reid took over the Kettledrum six years ago spending months gutting the building before transforming the premises inside.

"The pub had not been doing too well and had been open and closed multiple times before we approached Punch Taverns regarding the purchase," said Steve.

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"Having been our local since the 70s we were passionate about saving the pub and building it back to its former glory, especially given the long history of the place."

The Kettledrum Inn, Cliviger, Burnley. Photo: GoogleThe Kettledrum Inn, Cliviger, Burnley. Photo: Google
The Kettledrum Inn, Cliviger, Burnley. Photo: Google

Last year, the pair were acknowledged as 'mealtime heroes' through BBC North West Tonight 's Everyday Hero programme after delivering free meals, along with Cliviger Parish Council, to elderly residents isolating in the area.

Here, Steve offers his views on what lockdown restrictions have meant for the business:

What do you miss most about being open?

The biggest regret about having to close for Covid-19 has been postponing the ‘Cliviger Sounds Festival’ planned for June 2020.

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The three days of Blues, jazz and folk music on the car park featuring Paul Jones (Manfred Mann/The Blues Band) and Mark Radcliffe from Radio 2 amongst many others would have been a great event for the area.

Although all the performers have agreed to do it this year it is still impossible to start selling tickets not knowing how many tickets we could sell, if it can go ahead we will announce tickets back on sale from the Mechanics Box Office.

We know from so many people including the staff how simple conversations and interactions have been missed during the lockdowns.

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Do you think the hospitality sector has been unfairly treated?

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I feel the closures and restrictions enforced on the hospitality industry have been unfair given the lack of statistics backing up the claims that these are high risk areas.

This industry and gyms especially, are two areas as important as food retailers regarding people’s wellbeing and should not be closed given the safety measures that are in place.

We have taken great care in the Kettledrum to ensure safety and cleanliness is of the highest standard.

The Government listen only to SAGE and I feel the Barrington Declaration should have been equally considered.

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Furthermore, anyone in SAGE who has shares in any of the companies developing vaccines should be expelled from the committee due to clear conflicts of interest.

How much longer can your business survive lockdown?

From a business angle the Government and council support is appreciated but not enough as furlough for staff does not cover National Insurance, holiday pay or pensions.

The grants unfortunately don’t cover the general costs of gas, electricity and water rates. It’s difficult to estimate the full losses with no exit plan foreseeable yet, but we have decided to see it through.

What is your message to the Government?

If I were to forward a message to the Government, I would suggest extending the VAT reduction for 12 months after the lockdown to give businesses a fighting chance. Hopefully our MP Antony would back us on this.

Will Burnley bounce back stronger?

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Burnley is in a much stronger place than most towns of a similar size.

Given the work of the Burnley Bondholders over the last few years and the expansion of UCLan in the area the potential is excellent, and most businesses that stick this out will get a lot of support once the tier system is dissolved.