Guildford’s Best Bar None Awards returned to the Electric Theatre on Tuesday 24th October, with 10 of the town’s operators gaining recognition from the nationally acclaimed scheme that focuses on safety within the evening and nighttime economy.
Delivered by Experience Guildford, the town centre’s Business Improvement District, the Guildford Best Bar None scheme, now in its 10th year, celebrates best practice amongst the licensed trade, showcasing the hard work and commitment of Guildford’s venues to create and run safe, responsible and inviting town centre evening economy businesses.
A total of 38 venues signed up for assessment and accreditation from the scheme this year, the highest number of businesses to date. This endorsement aims to help the public make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a pub, club or bar, giving them the confidence that a venue has been assessed and meets a standard much higher than the minimum required for the trade.
Best Bar None accreditation runs across nine key categories, covering national and independent operators across the bar, pub, restaurant, late-night venue and entertainment sectors. Winners for each category were then announced at the awards ceremony following further assessment and judging by an expert panel on their delivery of four set operational criteria. The assessment criteria included:
- Prevention of crime and disorder
- Public safety
- Prevention of public nuisance
- Protection of children from harm
An overall Guildford Best Bar None winner was also announced, and this venue then goes on to represent the town in the national Annual Best Bar None Awards held at the House of Lords.
The ‘Most Improved’ category, which was introduced in 2022, was voted for by a selected panel of judges from the licensed trade and supporting sector.
Setting the scene for the awards, and presenting one of the categories, Ellie Vesey-Thompson, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey says;
“Surrey is the 4th safest county in the country, and the safest in the South East by some stretch. That’s not a fluke and it’s not just down to policing. It’s because we are good at working together to ensure people are safe and feel safe in our county. Feeling safe is really important, both for our residents and for our nighttime economy, because when people feel safe they are able to have fun. I want to thank each and every one of you in this room for all your hard work in facilitating this fun, and also for ensuring that our residents and visitors are as safe as possible.”
Guildford Jubilee Social Club was crowned Best Bar None overall winner and also picked up the award for Best Bar Independent.
Commended for embodying the true spirit of the Best Bar None scheme, and for meeting all the scheme’s objectives, Shelagh Holland, General Manager at Guildford Jubilee Social Club says;
“We won the Best Bar Independent last year, and to retain that again this year was amazing for us. We certainly didn’t expect any more than that, but to win the overall award as well is just incredible! We really put our all into winning again this year, trying to improve on our accomplishments from last year, to make our venue even better. All this hard work has truly paid off, and we couldn’t be happier.”
The Rodboro Buildings scooped the Best Bar National award, with Best Pub National going to The Britannia, and Best Pub Independent to the Royal Oak. The Best Restaurant categories were won by Positano (Independent) and Turtle Bay (National), and GLive claimed Best Entertainment Venue for a further year. Within the late-night venue category, awards went to Aux and Thirty3Hz.
A special Outstanding Contribution to the Evening & Late Night Economy Award was presented to Tim Brown, paramedic for Aux nightclub.
Commenting on receiving the award, Brown says:
“It was a complete surprise to win tonight, and I really am truly honoured. It’s such a privilege to work for the town, and to be part of the community that helps keep our young people safe when they visit Guildford. Best Bar None enhances and promotes the town as a safe place, and people want to live in a safe environment. These awards promote everything that Guildford is about, and what our nighttime economy is about.”
The Most Improved Venue Award, presented by Amanda Masters, CEO at Experience Guildford, went to the George Abbot.
Danielle Ryan, GM at the Greene King-owned site says;
“These awards demonstrate to our customers that we’re there for them, that they’re in safe hands, and will feel welcomed and respected when they visit us. These fundamentals are the backbone of our business, and as a sponsor, Greene King is working hard to ensure that every single pub in the estate is accredited by Best Bar None. It’s a really important process to go through, to ensure that everything is safe and legal, and the fact that we’re being celebrated for going above and beyond in terms of delivering this is amazing.”
Presenting the Overall Winner award, Sylvia Oates, National Best Bar None Co-Ordinator commended Guildford on its ongoing commitment to supporting and promoting a safe night-time economy and the Best Bar None scheme, saying:
“Experience Guildford has again delivered an amazing Best Bar None scheme, growing the number of participating venues from 34 to 38 in what continues to be challenging times.
“These awards offer an incredible opportunity to recognise and commend the licensed trade in Guildford, whilst celebrating their combined achievements of keeping everyone safe when visiting the town, and creating a vibrant nighttime economy. Well done to everyone who has won or got behind the scheme this year – thank you for demonstrating your commitment to safe socialising. Thanks also to Experience Guildford and all the partners for their hard work, commitment and support in delivering the scheme.”
Pete Lambert, Town Safety and Venue Liaison Manager, Experience Guildford adds:
“Now in its 10th year, Guildford’s Best Bar None scheme continues to go from strength to strength. We received our highest number of businesses putting themselves forward for accreditation, and Guildford’s evening and late-night offering gets better each year. We were also delighted to see returning winners, Guildford Jubilee Social Club, claim the overall Best Bar None Award, and to see The George Abbot be recognised for their ongoing commitment to the scheme by winning the ‘Most Improved’ category.”
“Experience Guildford has long supported Best Bar None, and we’d like to thank all of the town’s operators and the partners that work collaboratively with us on the scheme, including Guildford Borough Council, Guildford Pubwatch, Surrey Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue and Purple Flag, along with community charity groups such as Street Angels. Thanks also to Hogs Back Brewery for their support on the evening.”
For more information on Guildford’s Best Bar None Awards and other initiatives to enhance and promote Guildford’s nighttime economy, visit www.experienceguildford.com.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
Photos: Please credit: Matt Pereira
- Outstanding Contribution to Evening & Late Night Economy Award – Tim Brown (medic at Aux), Pete Lambert (EG)
- Best Overall Winner – Guildford Jubilee Social Club. Pete Lambert (EG), Sheila Holland and team (Guildford Jubilee Social Club), Sylvia Oates, National Best Bar None Co-Ordinator
- Best Pub National – The Britannia (Shepheard Neame). Pete Lambert (EG), Libby Britt and team (Britannia), Jane Lyons (Pub Watch)
- Most Improved – George Abbot (Greene King). Pete Lambert (EG), Danielle Ryan and team (George Abbot), Amanda Masters (EG).
Experience Guildford is the Business Improvement District representing retail and leisure businesses within Guildford town centre. Launched in February 2013, it consists of over 550 levy payers who have come together to decide and manage any additional improvements they want to make to the town centre. Working with the town’s retail and leisure sector, Experience Guildford has created a cohesive business plan that aims to serve the town across four main project areas:
- Marketing, Promotion & Events
- Safe, Clean & Welcoming
- Access & Car Parking
- Business Support
Experience Guildford was re-voted in by BID members following a 3rd ballot held in October 2022. Following this success, a new 5-year business plan was rolled out from February 2023 to ensure that Guildford remains a thriving and successful town centre.
Best Bar None Scheme
Supported by the Home Office, the Best Bar None scheme aims to reward venues who consistently go the extra mile to safeguard customers and reduce alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour. The scheme, now adopted by more than 100 towns and cities across the UK, has become a benchmark amongst operators, promoting responsible operation and management within the licensed trade.
Nationwide, the Best Bar None scheme is supported by Diageo and Pernod Ricard, Aasahi and some of the UK’s largest operators, including Wetherspoons, M&B, Greene King and Stonegate.
Winners of the 2023 Guildford Best Bar None Awards included:
- Best Restaurant Independent – Positano (presented by Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Masuk Miah)
- Best Restaurant National – Turtle Bay (presented by Experience Guildford Town Safety & Venue Liaison Officer, Experience Guildford, Emma White)
- Best Pub Independent – Royal Oak (presented by Senior Specialist for Licensing and Community Safety, Guildford Borough Council, Mike Smith)
- Best Pub National – The Britannia (presented by Chair of Guildford Pubwatch, Jane Lyons)
- Best Entertainment Venue – G Live (presented by Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for Surry, Ellie Versey-Thompson)
- Best Bar Independent – Guildford Jubilee Social Club (presented by Councillor Maddy Redpath)
- Best Bar National – The Rodboro Buildings (presented by Guildford Fire Safety Officer, Nick Chinn)
- Best Late Night Small – Thirty3Hz (presented by Guildford Town Centre Chaplain, Noelle Coe)
- Best Late Night Large – Aux – (presented by Town Safety & Venue Laison Manager, Experience Guildford, Pete Lambert)
- Outstanding Contribution to the Evening and Late Night Economy – Tim Brown, paramedic for Aux (presented by Town Safety & Venue Laison Manager, Experience Guildford, Pete Lambert)
- Most Improved Venue – The George Abbot (presented by CEO of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters)
- Overall Winner – Guildford Jubilee Social Club (presented by Best Bar None National Coordinator, Sylvia Oates)
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