Welsh Tourism – Are Wetherspoons Anti-Tourism?

21 Sep

Welsh tourism,  are Wetherspoons anti-tourism because their no dog policy even outside is how it seems to me.

This is what happened after visiting the Aberystwyth Food Festival on Saturday 16th September, when  Ian and I stopped off at Wetherspoon’s Yr Hen Orsaf, simply to have a drink. I sat outside at the front, with our well-behaved and very quiet dog, whilst Ian went inside for drinks. There is no food served in the two areas at the front of these premises and the weather was rather chilly.

I sat in the non-smoking area which was empty apart from one gentleman. The smoking area had just a couple of people there, obviously smoking and just one of them drinking. After waiting for ages to be served, Ian explained that it was busy inside and there were quite a few noisy children, so he was pleased we were outside.

Whilst sitting there a member of staff came out, collected a few glasses and went back inside.

When we’d finished our drinks and were about to leave another member of staff came outside and said we couldn’t sit there – that there were no dogs allowed. Asked why not, she said it was a Wetherspoon rule and as Wetherspoon owned the pavement, that was their decision.

I disputed who actually owned the pavement as I understood that Ceredigion County Council owned and were responsible for the County’s roads and pavements. No explanation was forthcoming but she said she’d get her line manager to come out and walked off.

A man appeared, said ‘Hi guys you’ve got a problem? Well I’m the manager. As a female I object to being called ‘guy’, but can only assume that either that greeting is part of Wetherspoon training, or perhaps it’s acceptable for me to address him as ‘girl?’

Then we were told that Yr Hen Orsaf did own the two roped off pavement areas, but when challenged again, he said well maybe Wetherspoons didn’t own it, but they paid for it. When asked how much ‘rent’ was paid he said that was commercially sensitive information! The manager made no further no comment until I explained that I intended to post this on Trip Advisor. He then suggested I contact Head Office, as he, as the Manager is the person that monitors Trip Advisor for Yr Hen Orsaf. Well that’s fine, but Trip Advisor will actually put this problem out in the arena for many to see, including dog owners.

Our dog is not a problem otherwise he would not be taken out in public, which cannot be said of the children running riot inside Yr Hen Orsaf!

The Manager agreed our dog was not causing a problem and that he was better behaved than many children that visited Yr Hen Orsaf, but it was company policy – NO DOGS. The Manager went back inside and as we were about to leave, two individuals said the Manager was wrong and they hadn’t realised we’d a dog with us. Then one lady kindly directed us to two pubs across the road opposite Yr Hen Orsaf, that both welcomed dogs, plus a café between those two pubs that also accepted dogs. She said she’d never heard anything so stupid as this Wetherspoon policy.

On Monday I contacted Ceredigion Country Council press team and ask them to clarify who owned the pavement and if Wetherspoons had bought this pavement area how much had they paid for it, or if they rent this space from the Council, how much is paid per year.

Follows is my email sent to the Press Office on 18th September:

Please can you clarify the outside of Yr Hen Orsaf in Aberystwyth?

The Manager has apparently stated that because they have roped of some of the pavement and put tables and chairs on both sides that this is THEIR space.

  1. Please can you clarify if the council still owns and is responsible for this section of pavement?

     2. If the council has sold this section of pavement to Wetherspoons please say when this deal took place and how much the council made on this sale.     

     3. If the council rents out this space to Wetherspoons please state price and terms agreed.

 Apparently the two pavement sections outside Yr Hen Orsaf are roped off as smoking and non-smoking. However a person – well actually that was me! – on Saturday afternoon was told she and her partner couldn’t sit in the non-smoking area outside with their dog, despite having bought and already had finished their drinks. She was told categorically Wetherspoons OWN THAT SECTION OF THE PAVEMENT. It is Wetherspoons’ space and their policy is no dogs outside, despite the Manager admitting the dog in question was asleep and less trouble than many children inside.

Please clarify fully Ceredigion’s policy on this situation.

Below is the response on behalf of Ceredigion County Council which I received on 20th September:

The Council is not in a position to comment / respond on the specific aspects of the disagreement behind the enquiry; however it can be confirmed that:

  1. The land in question is within the ownership of Ceredigion County Council.
  2. Please see 1. Above
  3. As a condition of the purchase of the land, the agreement was that Wetherspoons would be allowed to place tables / chairs in the defined area.

As I didn’t really understand the Council’s response, I went back to them on 20/9 as follows:

Thank you for your response. I’m sorry for being rather stupid and not fully following your response. I’m not asking the council to get involved in any dispute but to simply answer the questions submitted to you. You are stating that the council owns the pavement in front of Yr Hen Orsaf as they own all pavements across the county.

Please confirm this is a correct understanding of your response to question three:

You say as a condition of the purchase of the land, which I assume by this you mean that when Wetherspoons purchased the Old Station initially, the council agreement was that Wetherspoons would be allowed to place tables / chairs in the defined area. So in effect you are saying that Wetherspoons have in effect have ‘bought’ part of the pavement in the defined area. What amount was paid to CCC for Wetherspoons to ‘technically own the pavement in front of Yr Hen Orsaf?  

The Press Office replied on 21/9 again as follows:

Please find below the response on behalf of Ceredigion County Council:

Ceredigion County Council does own the pavement in question outside the Station/Wetherspoons in Aberystwyth, but it does not own all the pavements in the County as many of those (particularly within the towns) remain in private ownership.

What the Council is stating in response to question 3 is that when the Authority purchased the land in question from Wetherspoons, a condition of the purchase was that Wetherspoons would be granted permission to place tables/chairs in that area. Ownership of the area remains with Ceredigion County Council.

I hope these answer your final questions. – Well not really as all my questions haven;t been answered but there we are!!!

But I’ve learnt something, in that the council doesn’t own all the pavements in the County. Now I wonder if the Council still clean ALL the pavements, even those in private ownership, particularly in towns! So CCC have granted permission to place tables and chairs in the area in front of Yr Hen Orsaf, but you will note that I’ve not been told that this is rented or not, only that they ‘have permission’ to use that space. I guess as this question has been ignored as it could be classed as commercially sensitive!

I’m still bemused by this Wetherspoon policy and only wish it applied to children, the majority of which are poorly behaved indoors. But I’m also angry as Aberystwyth is very much a tourist area and many visitors to Wales do bring their dogs. Why this section outside the Yr Hen Orsaf cannot accept dogs, especially as no food is served there, is annoying to say the least. Surely Wales should be doing everything they can to encourage tourists – our economy needs them.

However dog owners, whether local or visitors have no need to worry, as the lady told me the two pubs opposite Yr Hen Orsaf welcome dogs and also The Diner which is opposite the new bandstand welcome dogs.

So my dear reader, is the last time we’ll visit ANY Wetherspoons – with or without our dog……………………


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  1. Bow

    September 22, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    We had the same problem
    Wetherspoons are against dogs but not unruly kids or loud students

  2. Bow

    September 22, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    We weren’t allowed to sit down with our dog – at least you got your drink

  3. admin

    September 22, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    But I’d then added to their profits!!!

  4. stan

    September 28, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    yes they are
    we got turned away with our dog
    so we’ll never return even without our dog.
    great welcome for visitors
    chuffed you aired this Kath

  5. Fiona

    September 28, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Upon reading this review I was disappointed at the complete lack of facts… Without being rude to the author it seems like they were upset that their dog was not allowed in this restaurant, fair enough. However I don’t see why the author feels she needs to go on the attack, so to say. The members of staff seem to have clearly communicated to her that they cannot allow dogs on the premises and that it is a company wide policy, meaning no one can change it. I am therefore disappointed that the author decided to attack this particular branch and accuse them of being “anti-tourism” when they have provided no evidence of this. Just stating that they don’t allow dogs and informed you of that fact is no evidence of this.
    I find it increasingly frustrating that people who work in hospitality have to deal with exagereted reviews that are written by people who were upset by something out of the control of the employees.

  6. admin

    September 29, 2017 at 8:52 am

    You have left your comment on my food blog – welshfoodbites. Thank you for you comment.

    I am Kath Rhodes and I edit Welsh Country magazine, but of course I have no idea who you are. Maybe you work for Wetherspoons, but guess you live in Aberystwyth……
    If you read my post you will see that we did NOT go into the into the restaurant, either in the pub itself or the eating area outside at the rear. My post clearly states we sat outside on the front on the PAVEMENT. We only wanted a drink.
    You say I go on the attack, well that’s your view, I disagree with you I’m not attacking just stating facts. I am simply highlighting a problem we incurred at Wetherspoons with our dog. It’s stating facts, saying what happened. Would you have preferred half a story, or as this is about a dog, just half a tail/tale? The staff clearly stated dogs were not allowed outside because Wetherspoons owned the pavement. I explained I was not happy with their policy. So am I not entitled to my opinion? I was not rude, did not raise my voice, simply asked questions. Am I not allowed as a customer to do that? Because as a journalist I certainly am, that’s part of my job.
    Obviously I know staff cannot change head office policy, but surely they need to be aware, whether they pass it on to head office or not.
    Company policies can be changed, IF the company wishes to change them. Companies cannot change policies if they are unaware customers don’t like one of their policies – surely that’s obvious? To me it’s commonsense.
    Wetherspoons tell me they only allow guide dogs – fine – by law they have to do that. BUT I’m talking outside, not inside. Perhaps instead of ranting at me you’d like to know that the Wetherspoons pub, The Green Parrot in Perranporth do accept dogs. Now how does that work out with their no dog policy? Is it because Perranporth has more visitors with dogs than Aber?
    I have provided evidence of Wetherspoons no dog policy in that at Yr Hen Orsaf they will not allow people with dogs to sit outside on the pavement and drink. Food is not allowed to be served outside in the pavement area. What further ‘evidence’ do you need? Wales relies very heavily on tourism, many tourists bring their dogs and there still not enough places across Wales where dogs are welcomed.
    This in my opinion, which is what this site is all about, my opinion.
    I have taken this up with Wetherspoons and the council and posted it on Tripadvisor as I said I would.
    I am so sorry that you are increasingly frustrated that people that work in hospitality have to deal with what you describe are exaggerated reviews. I agree, but my review was not exaggerated, in fact it was quite straightforward. Best I explain again I have taken this up with Wetherspoons Head Office as the Manager told me to write to head office, so I fail to see your problem.
    I have a right as a member of the public, as a Wetherspoon customer and as a journalist to report what happens.That’s what you read. If you don’t agree that’s down to you, but you weren’t there.
    The bottom line is Wales needs visitors and those with dogs should still be welcomed, especially in summer when dogs cannot be left in cars.

  7. Concerned local

    September 29, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Our economy also needs children. You have highlighted your opinion towards children. A selection of our most vulnerable human beings. It is not the unruly childrens fault if they’re not raised with the correct social skills of how to act in certain social areas. Additionally, younger children are only just learning to explore themselevs and how to act in different environments. It has infuriated me that you can judge the children who cannot defend themselves. Fortunately, we do not raise our children as we do dogs. We do not train them so strictly. In the western world we allow children to explore their individuality as it would be identified as abuse to raise a child as we would an animal. Not saying that you have implied children be raised this way, but stating this because you made a comparison towards the behaviour of dogs and children.

    Tourists include a high percentage of families with children. I am not sure on accurate statistics but an educated guess would be that many families with children visit Wales each year, and I am sure this would rapidly decline if restaurants offering meals at budget prices banned children. As it is known many of our family tourists are on strict financial budgets.

    I am very understanding your upset towards pubs in Wales not allowing dogs. I also see that your opinion is based on the outside of Yr Hen Orsaf rather than the pub itself. This is a fair enough opinion to express to support the economy as allowing dogs in more pubs would more than likely boost sales and tourists. However, you then state you wish the same policy of no dogs implied for children. Like I expressed before if this policy you wish for was implemented and practiced, we would be saying a lot of fair wells to tourists.

  8. admin

    October 2, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Thank you for your comment which I have approved. I do wonder whether perhaps you work for Wetherspoons, but of course no need to tell me as you can remain in the background as a ‘concerned local’.
    You need to re-read my post ‘concerned local’.
    My comment about children was they were running riot INSIDE. The Manager agree my dog was well behaved, but many children inside were not. Of course it’s not the children’s fault, but the fault of the parents not raising them with the correct, well ANY social skills, and how to act in social situations. But is it a great idea to bring them out when they appear to have few, if any, social skills. You weren’t there, so you have no idea on children numbers or their ages, so not sure your generalisation is relevant.

    I am however pleased that at the end of your comment you understood we sat outside on the PAVEMENT AREA. That was the whole point of the post. We were outside on the pavement to be told by staff, Wetherspoons owned that section of the pavement and we couldn’t sit there with our dog.

    Where am I stating that Wetherspoons NO Dog Policy should apply to children? I simply commented that my dog was better behaved than most children inside Yr Hen Orsaf, to which the Manager did agree.
    I have said nothing about how children should be raised, simply saying they are not as well-behaved as my dog. You describe parents as allowing chidren to explore their individuality, which some would view that as running riot with the parents having no control at all other them. The only comparision I have is that my dog was well behaved outside on the pavement and the children running riot inside the pub, were clearly were not well behaved, but just expressing their individuality for all the pub to share – well that’s ok then……………………
    I am not judging children who cannot defend themselves, just stating the facts on the day and posting a comment.
    If that’s infuriated you, so be it.
    You have got hold of the wrong end of the stick and I seriously suggest you re-read my post. The only policy I’m asking Wetherspoons to look at is the NO Dogs OUTSIDE – which does not apply to all Wetherspoons pubs.
    Not quite sure at the end of your comment you mention fair wells to tourists, I’m guessing you mean farewells, but I find that quite silly as I am unaware of any places that put notices on their tables or windows, saying no children allowed.
    While we are fond of dogs, we permit only registered assistance dogs inside our pubs and hotels. To avoid any confusion or unnecessary upset, please ensure that your dog is wearing the recognisable leash/collar or harness. It would also be helpful if you could bring along suitable documentation to explain the dog’s purpose.
    Some pubs, at the manager’s discretion, do permit dogs on a lead into the garden and/or other external areas.

    You’ll be delighted to know that Wetherspoons welcome children…………………………..

  9. local

    October 3, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Why do people leave comments when they can’t read or understand the post?
    What’s the point of that?
    Dog lovers will be in agreement and I’ve not heard anything so stupid about Wetherspoons owning the pavement, when they’ve really just done a deal with the council. Not allowing dogs there is rubbish, total rubbish.
    Wetherspoons in Aber are interested in students and families – dog lovers can literally take a hike.
    I’m surprised you allowed these comments.

  10. Tilly

    October 3, 2017 at 11:59 am

    We weren’t allowed to sit and drink on our pavement either with our poodle
    I don’t understand it and I do agree it’s against tourists as well as locals with dogs.
    I think Wetherspoons need a re-think
    If it’s at the Manager’s discretion why did he throw you out?
    The kids in that place are so loud and noisy
    my take is they shouldn’t be taken in pubs until they can behave.

  11. Babs

    October 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    You got your drink Kath but as a dog owner there is no logic there from the Manager
    Go across the road or back to The Diner by the bandstand

  12. admin

    October 3, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Well why not
    just wish people would read post fully before putting through a comment

  13. Charlie

    October 4, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Don’t waste time answering comments from people who can’t read fully or might just work for Wetherspoons.
    This is your site and your take on things

  14. dog owner

    October 5, 2017 at 8:30 am

    I had the same problem and I live on outskirts of Aber
    Pleased you’ve posted this but doubt if Manager will have a re-think, he’s agreed with what you said.Struggle to get why people post a comment when they’ve not read post properly.
    As for comment about kids it made me laugh/scream – quite often kids are badly behaved and parents ignore them.

  15. Ji

    October 6, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Yes they are
    anti dogs is disgraceful

  16. Tess

    October 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Yes they are
    we had same problem
    but you did get your drink which we didn’t
    we’ll try your other suggestions in Aber and forget Wetherspoons

  17. Jez

    October 11, 2017 at 9:25 am

    They sure are anti dogs and that means tourists too.
    Thanks for giving us dog owners other places to go.
    I’ve also been told I can’t sit outside too with our dog, and I’m not happy, I live in Aber. It is the pavement after all and chairs weren’t up to much either.
    Pleased you put this up and showed Wetherspoons dog owners aren’t happy!
    Well done Kath.

  18. BOw

    October 13, 2017 at 9:36 am

    we got thrown off the pavement too
    without even a drink
    we’ll try the places you suggest in future
    thanks Kath

  19. bow

    October 16, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I had the same problem but will now try the Diner on the front at Aber

  20. Bri

    October 17, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    I would guess most dogs are way better behaved than young kids as I find parents have no control over them at all.
    Thanks for telling us about this