A controversial policy limiting how many drinks parents can consume in Wetherspoons has sparked outrage on social media this week.
The Robert Pocock of Windmill Street, Gravesend put up a poster last weekend, informing customers that if they were in the company of their children, they would be limited to just two alcoholic beverages.
The sign states: “As part of our licensing it is our responsibility to ensure that we are protecting children from harm. Therefore adults in charge of children will be allowed to have one alcoholic drink and a further alcoholic drink with a sit down meal.
“After that amount of alcohol is consumed we are in our legal right to refuse service to alcohol.
“We appreciate that this may not have been followed rigorously enough in the past; however this will not be enforced in the New Year.”
The management of the Gravesend boozer were ordered to take down the sign almost instantly, as it “wasn’t a note that was endorsed by the company”.
Backlash online has seen many comments claiming the public house is “not a place for kids”, while others support it as encouraging “better parenting”.
JD Wetherspoons spokesperson Eddie Gershon told Voice of Kent: “There are almost 900 pubs and there might be hundreds of pubs where the children are allowed in with no problems at all and on that basis the manager doesn’t need to do anything.”
Mr Gershon stressed that the reason for this sudden implementation of policy wasn’t to punish parents for bringing their kids into a pub-environment, but to ensure the safety of children and punters alike.
“What happened in this particular pub is that there was an issue with some people who were letting their children behave in a bad way, and effectively just carried on drinking while their kids were running up and down the pubs. That was annoying a lot of people.”
Being drunk while in charge of a child under the age of seven in a public place is illegal according to the 1902 Licensing Act. The punishments for breaking this law can vary between a fine to serving up to a month in prison.
Current Wetherspoons employee Catherine Riozzi, 21, claims that in all of her training, she’s never come across this policy before.
“I’ve never heard a rule in any of these pubs that prohibits parents being served alcohol when visiting with their children.
“I’ve been taught in any bartending training that refusing to serve someone when pregnant or with their children is discrimination and you must serve them.”
Ms Riozzi has worked at the pub chain for four years, in three different branches across Essex and London.
In light of the Gravesend poster, she added: “Obviously if sometimes you feel there is a time when you shouldn’t be serving them, if this is the case then I’ve been taught that you can contact the relevant authority if you think the child is unsafe.”