Children taken to pubs by parents are running riot like "baby lager louts", ruining the enjoyment of other customers, it is claimed today. Editors of the Good Pub Guide have received dozens of complaints from readers about children's behaviour as pubs try to make themselves more family-friendly.And it’s not just some parents who seem reluctant to request discipline and respect for others – teachers aren’t always capable of it either, when taking their charges out for an ‘out-of-school activity…
The introduction to the guide's 27th edition says it is hard to see a solution to "this particularly British problem", although plenty of pubgoing families caused no trouble. "In continental restaurants and cafes, it's normal to see families with children, not normal to see kids spoil things for grown-ups.But there’s the problem – their ‘right’ to a relaxed family day out doesn’t supecede anyone else’s right to enjoy a day out without other people’s undisciplined children ruining it. And anyone who walks out without paying can be charged with theft – that’ll nip threats such as this in the bud pretty quickly.
It's easy to say we could start treating parents who let their children run riot with the disdain normally reserved for lager louts. But would that have any impact on people who think they are entitled to a thoroughly relaxed family day out? And you can imagine the retort when a publican asks a badly-behaved family to quieten their children. 'We have just spent over 50 quid here, do you want us to leave without paying?' "
It’s also true that you rarely see this behaviour on the continent, though I believe it won’t be long before they start catching up to us in the ‘children behaving badly’ stakes – after all, our other bad habits spread so rapidly.
Nine in 10 of the 5,000 pubs listed in the guide allowed children. But some readers wanted a "no children" logo to help them choose those that did not, according to Fiona Stapley, a co-editor. "It might be something we would think about. We are split. We understand those people going to a pub for a quiet time but we also have a lot of readers who have young children and we want to support them as well."Excellent! I’d certainly choose a ‘no children’ pub over one that didn’t have such a logo.
And if that worked, how about that ‘I allow smoking’ logo for those pubs that want to attract custom without government interference…?