An apple juice out in the cold

Children are now allowed to join their parents down the pub. So what stops them? asks Sheila Sang

Back in January, the days of disgruntled adults and whining children shivering outside their local pub, one eye on the Coke bottle, the other on the glowing fire within, were over. Or so we were told. Children of any age were to be allowed to join their parents for a Saturday night down the pub - as long as the landlord had secured a Children's Certificate.

North of the border, under-14s have been downing apples juices and colas since the Children's Certificate scheme was introduced in 1991. But south of the border and six months into the scheme, children are still out in the cold while landlords struggle with a mountain of red tape.

You may think the provision of CD-Rom drives at each table, chocolate milkshakes on tap and an emergency supply of nappies requires a lot of paperwork. But what is actually required is far less exciting. To qualify, according to the Home Office, pubs must serve food and non-alcoholic drinks. They must also be "suitable". A "family atmosphere" is a must and that doesn't mean tantrums and parental showdowns. Quite what does make a pub "suitable" is for individual licensing magistrates to decide. And that is why transforming often already family-friendly pubs into official kiddie zones is so difficult.

Take Jerry Watson of Bass Taverns. When he applied for Children's Certificates for two pubs in Vale Royal, near Manchester, the local licensing authority specified 36 conditions, ranging from separate new toilets for children and water no hotter than 39C to low level-basins and baby-changing facilities. No matter that the gardens (and loos) of the pubs in question are already extensively used by families.

Then there is Brewers Fayre, a pub chain voted "Parent Friendly Family Pub of the Year" for the past two years. All its pubs are purpose-designed for families, but so far nine of its applications have been rejected and it has withdrawn seven others.

Children, like pets, are close to the hearts of the British people. So having introduced legislation enabling the toddler, the labrador, the granny and the bangers and mash to gather under one roof, what is the Government doing to make it easier to get a Children's Certificate?

"We spoke to the Home Office recently," says Mike Bennett of Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale. "They seem to have no intention of intervening in the near future."

So it looks as though families in most of England and Wales will be left out in the cold for some time to come.

The top ten guide to family-friendly public houses

Family pub of the year 1995: Coombe Cellars, Coombeteinhead, Devon: 01626 872423.

Barbridge Inn, Barbridge, Cheshire: 01270 528443.

Ferry Inn, Reedham, Norfolk: 01493 700429.

Fleur-de-Lys, Lowsonford, Warwickshire: 01564 782431.

Grapes Hotel, Maentwrog, Gwynedd, Wales: 01766 590365.

Jervis Arms, Onecote, Staffordshire: 01538 304206.

Otter, Weston, Devon: 01404 42594.

Notley Arms, Monksilver, Somerset: 01984 656217.

Smugglers, Osmington Mills, Dorset: 01305 833125.

Wight Mouse, Chale, Isle of Wight: 01983 730431.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn