'Star Chamber' set to convene to tackle hospitality red tape and regulation

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Red tape, Hotel

A cross-Whitehall 'Star Chamber' is set to meet soon to assess which areas of red tape and regulation for the hospitality sector can be cut after considering a report from a taskforce chaired by the British Hospitality Association (BHA)
A cross-Whitehall 'Star Chamber' is set to meet soon to assess which areas of red tape and regulation for the hospitality sector can be cut after considering a report from a taskforce chaired by the British Hospitality Association (BHA)
A cross-Whitehall committee or 'Star Chamber' is set to meet in the next few weeks to consider hospitality industry proposals to cut red tape and regulation, Tourism Minister John Penrose has revealed.

In January an industry taskforce, chaired by the British Hospitality Association (BHA), presented a report to the Government​ of recommendations on areas of legislation to review or amend to make life easier, and more profitable, for hospitality operators.

Among the 80-plus proposals were amendments to Visa controls for tourists, faster and easier planning permission rules and simplified fire safety guidance.

"I asked some very heavy-hitting people in the industry to come together to do it because I wanted it to be industry-led and they did not disappoint - they did a very good job on it," Penrose said of the taskforce report.

Kangaroo court

Speaking to BigHospitality​, Penrose explained where the process of responding to the report had got to. He announced the proposals had been divided into those that could be handled by other Government departments and those that did not fit anywhere else.

The ideas that are now being dealt with in policy reviews in departments other than the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) include the removal of unnecessary health and safety assessment duplication - this and other ideas on health and safety have been fed into the Löfstedt review.

The remainder, Penrose revealed, would now be investigated by a cross-Whitehall committee to decide which proposals could be implemented and how.

"I have what is called a 'Star Chamber'. I am rather hoping it is going to be a complete kangaroo court; it is going to give the red tape no chance at all," Penrose said. 

"All these regulations were passed with a good intention even if they have now become a burden. We have got to be careful we aren't throwing out babies with bathwater. We won't get it all done but I want to get as much of it as I can and we will feed it back as it comes out"

Penrose said members of the taskforce were keeping tabs on the process and a spokesperson for the BHA confirmed it was looking forward to an announcement soon.

Watch John Penrose's comments on cutting red tape in full via the video below:

Pub feedback

The BHA-chaired taskforce was formed as part of the Government-wide Red Tape Challenge.

In September last year the Government announced 60 regulations affecting hospitality it was hoping to scrap​ including changes to food-labelling and no-smoking signs. The implementation of these changes is on-going and Penrose said he is hoping to announce a similar list later this year of examples of red tape that will be cut.

In a separate development, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced it is urging anyone involved with running a pub to feed their good and bad experiences of dealing with local authorities into its Focus on Enforcement campaign.

The results of the survey, backed by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), will be used to review how regulations and rules are delivered rather than assess the rules themselves.

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