'Disappointing' response to licensing trust's plan

Clutha Licensing Trust businesses (clockwise from top left): Clutha Liquorland, Balclutha; White...
Clutha Licensing Trust businesses (clockwise from top left): Clutha Liquorland, Balclutha; White Horse Inn, Milton; Hotel South Otago, Balclutha; Catlins Inn, Owaka; Rosebank Lodge Hotel, Balclutha; Oak Tree Inn, Clinton; Captain’s Cafe and Bar, Balclutha.

An initial phase of consultation on the future of the Clutha Licensing Trust has attracted only "single-digit'' submissions.

Trust chairman Steve Morris said the low level of staff response to consultation regarding the trust's plans to sell its pubs and liquor store, and move to a community trust model, was "disappointing''.

The trust owns and operates five hotels and one liquor store, collectively employing about 80 staff.

An employee at one of those businesses, who asked not to be named, said she believed the low number of staff responses was down to the speed with which the process had been conducted.

A fortnight was allocated for submissions, which closed on Friday.

Staff were simply too busy "doing their jobs'' to fill in forms, she said.

"I don't know of anyone here who's filled one in. It all happened so quickly, then the nature of the job means you've got no time to sit down and put pen to paper.''

Despite uncertainty about job security and what shape a transformed trust might take, she said she and other staff members were not panicking.

"It depends on what happens. I guess times change and things need to move on to make a profit, but I don't think anyone believes it's all going to change overnight.

"I'm hoping there'll be enough time to do some forward planning if the worst happens, and we all end up out of a job.''

Mr Morris was at pains to reassure staff and the wider public the trust had their interests at the heart of the current process.

"This is a community trust, owned by the community and reliant on its staff for running effectively. We're not closing anything down.

"Our aim in investigating this transformation is to allow the businesses to prosper under private ownership, and the trust to prosper through developing greater returns. Until we've looked at all the possibilities, it's business as usual.''

The next stage would be public consultation, mirroring the recent staff process, he said.

"The board will look closely at those submissions we've received, and we expect to issue a document for community consultation in the very near future.

"No-one enjoys creating uncertainty for other people, so as trustees we feel an acute responsibility to the trust, its staff and the Clutha community to carry out this process carefully and for the benefit of all.''



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