The Three Horseshoes, Goulceby

the Lincolnshire Wolds Pub for Camping, Glamping & Marquee Weddings

I feel I did not get my point across tonight at our parish council meeting about a planning application for our business so in the heat of the moment I argued my point here.

I am massively frustrated that so much misinformation about our intentions has not been challenged and that our village is arguing about things they have only heard a one sided argument to.  I appreciate that this is of concern to people, I really do, but I ask for our villagers to read what I wanted to say tonight in full.  I managed only 1/3 not realising I would be under a time limit.  Please read it.  I know I touch some nerves, but please have some empathy to understand my passion and frustration but importantly, draw your own conclusion.

Let me try and get the heart of the matter.

I have read the objections to our planning application.  I have conversed with the environmental health officer regarding your complaints to them.  I have listened to what you have said tonight.  I accept and understand you have concerns. 

It is quite a simple and obvious thing that our actions, ideas and plans for this pub would always be of interest to you.  Not just now but always.  Whatever we do creates an opinion in someone.  Even when I change the menu it creates a view.  The most difficult thing is, that you don’t all have one view.  My wife and I are tasked with creating something that not only takes account of these views but also balances your many viewpoints against our best interest. 

Our businesses best interest is to make profit and as much as possible.  Our personal best interest to have a life as well as we can.   As we all know, quality of life is a balance between the financial resources we all have and how hard we have to work to get them.  Quality of life is also about our wellbeing, how happy we are, how often we get to see our families, how much time we have to do what matters to us.

I could hypothesise as some of you seem to have done, that turning this place into a stag and hen centre to rival Blackpool would be in our best interest.  But I can’t really see 21 year olds trotting down to the middle of nowhere for a booze up rave weekend working here.  From your objections, I guess some of you can.  I presume that’s why I am in business and most of you are not.  Personally, I don’t want to be dealing with drunk 21 year olds.  They are a nightmare.  It may be surprising to you but we also made the decision to move to somewhere like this because it is relatively tranquil, peaceful and beautiful.  I may surprise you that our campers and holiday makers come here for that exact same reason to.  You may have overlooked that we, more than all of you, have to deal with the public directly and the problems they may bring.  So whilst you may hear someone cussing and shouting outside, it probably because I have had to throw them out in the first place.  You have to listen from behind a lock and key, I deal with confronting people who don’t behave.  I don’t like dealing with confrontation any more that you clearly don’t like dealing with it but that is what my job entails.

So this wedding that upset lots of you – the second one – the louder one, we had to deal with it.  An unprofessional band who were unwilling to listen to the landlord of the venue they played in.  A bride who spent the evening blubbing because I had to confront their breach of contract and a crowd that wanted to lynch me.  A lot of people who had had too much to drink to be able to drive and be sent packing.  What’s your magic wand solution? 

It not that important.  What is more important is that I had to deal with it and I didn’t much like it.  So ask yourself why I would want to be in that position and you will soon realise that I don’t.  You should be able to understand that whilst I want my business to make me some money I also want to live life as easily as possible.

Here lies the issue for all of you and me too.  I live amongst you but I have to balance my right to earn some money with my desire to live reasonably.  I also have to balance your right to live how you want to live.  I have to be logical, fair and respectful in finding the right balance. 

I have a business here where the pub, through food especially and drink make a large annual loss.  I have to then think that this clearly doesn’t work for both myself and my wife, especially since it takes a 15 hour day, 7 day effort to achieve this loss.  So I then balance what can be done about it.

Should I shut the pub?  Should I diversify the pub?  Is there a way to make it work? 

It makes a loss because it is staff intensive, energy intensive, cost intensive and VAT inefficient.  There are huge bills.  It also sells products where you make a GROSS PROFIT of a £1 or so on a drink and a few quid on food.  So I have to sell an awful lot of drinks and food to make those pounds accumulate.  It’s a volume business.

If I have enough volume of people I can then pay the bills for my staff, my electric, my heating, my cooling, my licensing, my music licence, insurance and so on.  I also have to administer all of this.  So your £10 plate of food has to pay the VAT, the chef, the waiter, the pot washer, me, my bills, the kitchen equipment and the food itself.  What’s left? 

On a Saturday after serving 30 meals, nothing.  On a Wednesday after serving 6, a huge black hole and on August Bank Holiday weekend after serving 70 meals and a lot of drink, a profit.  Up, down from day to day, season to season.  It is an impossibly difficult business, so why bother?  Do some maths, work out how much a chef gets paid each week, each day we are open.

On the other hand, a wedding invites a 100 people to eat, drink and be merry, all on one day.  It also fills up my accommodation so I have this beautiful thing – a guarantee of a profitable day. 

The campsite has the advantage of easier work for less cost, it’s biggest costs are in the set-up buried in sewerage systems and electric cables and creating toilet blocks.  It offers high margins so it makes money. 

The pub, on the other hand, is more: open the doors and hope for the best. 

So let me make this a clear as possible.  Our business is not a pub, our business – Go Camping UK Ltd – is a campsite holiday business that happens to own a pub on one of its campsites.  I am not a chef, nor am I a barman.  I do it when I feel like doing it.  Don’t get me wrong I am nothing but a small business, so there are lots of financial pressures and I don’t like losing money but the pub has become a burden, not a pleasure.  What is a pleasure, is working for and with, the people who were at that Gala yesterday: seeing happy faces, feeling appreciated.  That was a real pleasure.  What is not a pleasure is listening to a minority of moaning Nimbys in this village.

So what does the pub do?  The pub is a loss making entity so it doesn’t offer money.  It invites a lot of people to come along and criticise you and tell you that your £10 meal is only worth £5 or nothing.   It resides in a village that has a fair share of Nimbys. 

30 pubs close each week, that combined with the fact that all of you know what a pub is and believe it can’t be that difficult to make some money from it – especially from food – creates a madness where there is always another fool to have a go.  So pubs have a ready supply of misguided fools that think they can walk into another knackered pub business that is next to impossible to run.

My vision for this pub was and is, to create a viable lifestyle business to either support my family or to cash in on one day so that it can support someone else’s life.  For anyone to get anything from this place it has to become viable and workable.  For me the business would be beautiful if it retained the pub since it represents history, community and heart.  But it only becomes beautiful if it makes some money and doesn’t kill the people running it.

The only benefit that this pub currently offers our business is that it glues our business together.  It helps us sell weddings, it helps us sell our accommodation because it enables us to provide a service to our guests.  Despite its usefulness as glue, it must also become workable and profitable. 

For three and a half years I have managed to stay open, bank rolled by our very successful campsite in Norfolk.  It’s been a huge price to pay for some glue. 

There are only two ways forward: 

1. Develop the volume of people the pub needs to survive whilst at the same time be far more efficient in managing its costs so that it can become realistically sustainable for two people to have a life and make a living from it.

2: Give up on that idea, shut the pub and run the profitable and sustainable parts of the business.

I still have a plan for the first idea for the pub and I still believe in my plan, it has adapted and evolved and recent events have evolved it still further.  The planning application is about allowing us to implement this plan.

Without the things in this planning application (and the next two planning applications – which are about developing higher end accommodation on the existing camping area and converting the small bar at the front of the pub) we simply cannot develop the volume of business needed cover the overheads that are necessary in running the place.  A good example:  if a chef is flat out working then he is efficient, if he is stood still waiting for something to do he is very expensive.  If my chef spends most of his time being busy rather than stood still then we are both efficient and profitable but whether I have 1 customer or 50, I still have his wage to pay.  To become profitable, I need 50 customers but I also need to remove the periods where 50 people is never going to happen.

There is no other way.  Those of you who think it is possible to make a living from a few cyclists, villagers and walkers are way off the mark.  We are not in the lake district, we are not by the sea, we do not have that volume of passing trade.  There are nowhere near enough walkers, cyclists, residents or campers to make this pub work.  The planning application gives us a chance to improve this.

So the debate is simple from my point of view.  There is no pub viability without allowing these things but I am not asking you to put up with a nightmare.  There is no nightmare here, despite what some of you believe or have been led to believe.

Fears about weddings

Our primary business is selling accommodation, camping, the campsite.  Weddings are something that makes use of both the pub facility and catering capability as well as the accommodation that we have to sell.  BUT, we live in an AONB, we are in a small quiet village.  These are the very things that attract people here, both you, wedding couples and tourists. 

That said, now and again people come here in error.  I have youngsters that come camping here thinking this is a place for booze up on a campsite.  It isn’t.  I have wedding couples thinking they can do what they like.  They can’t.  Because of those errors, until they leave they don’t particularly fit and they can be annoying. 

On the other hand, we have probably had residents that don’t fit in here too.  They are people who make mistakes, mistakes that end with them leaving.  In both cases, they are a ripple of minor hassle not a tsunami of chaos. 

We are allowed to have live music outside until 11pm.  A standard licensing condition.  We stop at 10pm.  We restrict this to three things a year because we have always taken into account what is reasonable for our village to put up with.  The council’s advice is that anyone can do pretty much anything three times a year because that is deemed reasonable.

Your rights to live in peace, that most of you have repeatedly quoted, is not so engrained in exactness that it prevents everyone else from their rights to do what have to or need to do.  No council or court is able to enforce an exacting right to live without noise without considering how much noise you are reasonably being asked to put up with.   If that were the case people would be being prosecuted for shouting, hammering, turning a blender on if that shout went over the decibel level.  Balance your argument.   How do you think Cadwell do their music, Glastonbury do theirs.  They are both rural too.  People can here it, no doubt someone moaned.  Did they stop it?  No, because it wasn’t reasonable to do so because it didn’t last very long and doesn’t happen that often.

So we do not do six, twelve or 20 noisy outside weddings, we are advised that three is perfectly reasonable.  If we want more noise, then that is possible but only if we can control the noise to be below a certain level.  What level of noise is allowable?   It’s probably not that high in this type of setting which is why the marquee, one day, will be replaced by a solid building, capable of containing sound.

If I can contain the noise from weddings, I will sell more weddings.  We provide a DJ in the pub which brings the noise and party inside the pub thus containing noise, just as we do when we have live music on.  The impact is then not on you in regards to noise.   If, as most of you do, live nowhere near the pub you cannot hear anything when music is inside.  Even my immediate neighbours are relatively unaffected and unbothered.  It might be loud in here but quiet outside.

Is it reasonable to allow me 3 noisy weddings a year, with music lasting about 2 to 3 hours at each?  Of course it is.

Is it reasonable that people laugh and make slightly more noise when at a wedding than they would watching TV at home.  They talk, they laugh they make noise.  This is within any reasonable noise threshold, monitored or not, so yes, it’s reasonable. 

If you don’t like it that mild noise from a pub don’t live right next to a pub.  This is a building where people come and go and thereby make some noise: people will leave late at night, slam a car door, talk on the way to the car and laugh.  It’s your choice.  It is you that is unreasonable in you asking the many in a pub to make no conversation, to walk in silence, to not drive to the pub so that you alone can enjoy your silence.  For the vast majority of you, you have the benefit of a pub not in the centre of a village.  It is nowhere near enough to you to be disturbed by the natural noise that people will make.  That is why we bought this place.

Fears about our terrible campers and overnight visitors.

The fact that this area wants more visitors, the fact that this is part of the council’s local plan so that the local economy has more employment and more inbound money being spent is strength to our application.

Some of you concern yourselves about things like dogs pooing and people not picking it up.  Some of our residents don’t pick up dog poo either but for you, it is all our campers fault.  Some of you have this nasty habit of blaming everything on us, just as one of you did with the recent missing dog being dumped at the pub because it MUST be one of our camper’s dogs that had strayed.  It wasn’t one of the campers.  It’s a dog, it got out, it went for a stroll and it got re-united with its owner in the village.  What exactly is the big deal?

So let’s say you bother yourselves that another dog bin is needed.  Maybe it is.  Who pays?  Considering the colossal amount of taxation that we pay it is probably us that pays indirectly.  

What I ask is that you get some tolerance and perspective because that would be reasonable.  I cannot control the anti-social behaviour of guests here to the extent that I follow them around on their dog walk just as I cannot control some of my villager’s anti-social behaviour and general intolerance of other people.  Do you think I like dog poo on my campsite?  No I don’t, but some of my campers still don’t respect the ethos, they are asked not to but they still do it.  I don’t take the view of banning all dogs and their owners is necessary because a few people are disrespectful.  I behave like a normal person and confront people and address their behaviour because I am not a coward.  When those people need confronting I ask them to be reasonable and most of the time, they are.  Once in three years I may get a mouthful.  Their problem, not mine.  They leave.

The pollution, noise, traffic, safety issue are other unreasonable points you make.  More nonsense, than unreasonable to be fair.  This village has a population of about 135.  Hemmingby and Scamblesby has a population of about 230.  So on my maths we can afford to add another 95 people to this village before we are as traffic ridden and polluted as those two places must be.  Get some context because your argument is not great since I doubt people in Hemmingby or Scamblesby think their lives are terrible. 

The extension to this campsite will make it a small seasonal campsite with about an extra 20 or so pitches.  40 or so people but only when it’s at capacity, a few times a year.  You on the other hand, ruin the AONB with permanent buildings and permanent residency so if you feel so strongly about the natural environment then demolish your building and return your land to nature.  You pollute this area far more than these campers do, you have brought more cars, more light, more electric consumption, more bricks and concrete than a camper or caravanner has ever brought here.  So why don’t you get rid of your’s first if you have a problem?

You want to impose delivery restrictions on me.  How about you abide by the same rules, no more Tesco delivery vans in the area.

You want my campers to have an arrival curfew.  How about you go on a holiday and only arrive between a set time of 3 and 5pm.  How about you are locked out of your village until it suits those rules.

You want a campsite, weddings and everything else; somewhere else.  How about you go somewhere else.  You have the hypocrisy to go on holiday to somewhere else beautiful and expect their residents to deal with you.  If it happens here – no, not here, its not suitable.

It is also obvious that you have clearly got together, no doubt sat around and concocted as many reasons as you can think of to boost up your argument.  Your closed meetings, your intolerance of the other point of view and your willingness to listen to so much misinformation that you have a festered a complete misinterpretation of our business.  This is actually what caused you to get so annoyed.

So quite simply, our intention is and always was to make a living from a small village location that offers a campsite with some accommodation and a pub.  The pub – as with nearly all pubs - is very difficult to run in such a small place. 

We are perfectly entitled to do what we do because I am and always have been reasonable.  So you can waste lots of people’s time complaining but to what end?

It is the hope of a few that with enough volume of opposition this planning application will have problems passing.  It is the hope of me, that with enough support, it won’t.  It is almost certainly the view of a planner that they will only consider planning reasons and we have some excellent ones:  jobs, economic growth, encouraging tourism, building high end tourism, making the pub more sustainable, business growth.  Lots of very powerful reasons that this country and this county need to generate money, jobs and grow the rural economy. 

So that is my take on the planning issue but it is not my primary concern.  My concern is that the current business level is that of a loss making business and I need to deal with this.  The latest chapter in my difficulties of how to run a pub is how to deal with the problems resulting from the actions made by a handful of villagers.

These actions are that of a warmonger.  They appear to have sat around together to discuss a war strategy.  They came up with a ‘let’s bomb the hell out of him’ strategy.  Their objections are personally aimed at me.  I am the target.  The pub, unfortunately, is collateral damage.  I dare say the rest of us ask and I certainly ask: ‘If you had concerns why not come and talk them over.’  In my war analogy is called diplomacy.  They don’t seem to do diplomacy. 

The trouble with war and bombing places is that kind of annoys those that get bombed.  What happens after you have destroyed somewhere?  Does someone have to rebuild it?  Or do you let them live the consequences and deal with a severely irate population?  In our case that irate population is a lot of villagers and a man and wife.

You may think I am exaggerating or you may have no idea how a few people can achieve so much damage.  This pub is the centre of so much misinformation, Chinese whispers and lies that many people in the surrounding area won’t come here.  They have stopped coming here.  This pub and this village is on people’s tongues from Louth to Woodhall Spa. 

I know, I talk to people and I hear what my customers are telling me.  I can see the till readings.  I can see the faces that come or don’t come in here.  I have customers from further afield that tell me that they were dragged down by a friend because they heard this place was a nightmare.  I have customers who were convinced to come down by a friend because they had been told it was closed.  We have a very serious and difficult problem.   Chinese whispers spread fast and reputations are demolished even faster.  That, I tell you, is where we are.  In trouble.  This is the effect of some of our own villagers allegedly using their email lists and various other means to deride our business.  Those people carry on the message and so it spreads.

I have a few short weeks before the end of the holiday season arrives and after this, local trade is all that is left.  This place will be a dessert.  August Saturdays have had as little as 6 local people in here.  I am almost totally reliant on the income from campers at the moment.  That puts the pub, a pub that was already losing money, very close to closure and under immense pressure.  I am currently working on how to adapt to this challenge and threat but we will see how things go first.

Whereas big businesses can withstand negative publicity (Voltswagon, Google, Starbucks) small businesses are extremely vulnerable.  Think of the impact of my chef going off sick, paying him to be sick and paying for a replacement.  Think of the impact on one big client not paying their one big bill.  Think of the impact of reputation tarnishing.  It kills small businesses. 

My argument for planning was always a simple one but just one that some people were not willing to hear.   Not willing to hear before trashing me.  I have a short time up here and have given you a brief answer (it might seem a long speech but it’s a brief answer).  I have always said to these people who have caused so much damage to this pub as I have always said to everyone: if you have a problem or question just come and see me.  I am no London thug, despite my accent but I am a highly educated broad minded person.  I am an emotional person.  I am very opinionated.  I am very logical.  Talk to me, I like a debate and usually I can give you something else to think about.  Yes you will be dicing with a reaction but if I don’t react well I am also good at apologising when I am wrong which I have to do because I get emotional and that clouds logic.  What I don’t do is get fisty, shouty or rude.  I am proud of my civilisation but I am no coward. 

Unfortunately, some of you have gone a long way to destroying your own village’s pub because you are too cowardly to talk with someone who you have a dispute with.  Shame.   Whilst you have damaged me, I can take solace that you have probably damaged your own properties and assets even more.  In my research looking into the negative effect that a campsite has on property values as one of you claimed (I couldn’t find any evidence for this by the way) I discovered that Neighbourhood disputes like this, that get recorded on public record, devalue houses by £35000 against the average house price.  A good local village pub increases values by 10%.  You are in danger of a self-inflicted double whammy.  Nice move, let’s hope not too many people followed you.

I am sure most of you do not want to devalue your properties and even if you did, I know lots of you actually quite like having a pub here anyway.  If you would like your pub to have some sort of re-birth this is what I think needs to happen.  You need to stop thinking of me as the owner of this pub and everything is for me because at the moment me is the pub.   You actually need to start respecting me and my brains as its present custodian because I am actually pretty good at what I do. 

This pub was here long before me or most of us and with some effort and work to clear up and correct the mess these people have caused, it could be here long after.  I need to get my business plan back on track but it needs your help.

I speak to the pub’s friends here.  If you think ‘Ian owns the pub’ you think like them.  If you think, this is my village, my pub and my place and I like where I live, then you have some ownership of your community and the pub should be part of this.  This pub has a history far longer than any resident and it is part of the fabric of this village.  As members of this village we owe it to not put our selfish view in front of the benefit to all.  If you like this village you like EVERYTHING in this village, its pub, its scenery, its history, its village idiot (if we had one).  If you don’t have that sense of belonging you don’t think like that.   So we hear about those that are born and bred here and we here about these blow ins.  The truth is that some blow ins have helped me and this village far more than some natives.  Some natives have done far more damage, obviously not all but some.  The reality is that it is our own individual attitude to life that is important and I ask you to decide if you want to feel that sense of belonging to a community?  A community will fight for what a community wants:  that should include its own pub.

So take a lesson from the pub’s enemies and spread a positive message as effectively as they have spread their negative one.  All you have to do is champion our village and our pub.

Privately, of course, we all know how rubbish things in here can be.  I do anyway.  Just as we would know what an idiot our village idiot was.  But that’s the point.  It’s our pub, our idiot and our rubbish to sort out. 

If you want to help your own village’s pub, then stop being its customer and turn yourself into one of these good people and be its friend.  Friends tell each other stuff and can keep confidence without gossiping.  Friends do not do backstabbing.  Friends help each other. 

So, we have a job to do and this pub needs you more than ever.  Your custom is welcome but your verbal support of this pub is far, far more important, not just now but always.  Feel it is yours and you won’t ever say its rubbish, the food is terrible, beer awful, landlord’s a right whatever.  Even when it is rubbish because if you wish it to remain a pub you need to look after it better especially with some bullies in the playground.   You would not hang out your own family for the mistakes they make would you?  So next time you get a naff meal (and we do them) don’t go on, help us, talk to us because I have no great desire to be naff and to take your money for nothing but at the same time it’s very hard to not be good all the time.  If perfection is the marker you insist upon and punishment is the outcome of failure, I will always fail and so will this pub because things are highly unlikely to be perfect all or any of the time.

My wish is that we go forwards after tonight but it is extremely difficult now.  I need your to support in what we do.  Right now, the pub needs life support and the medicine is some good news travelling around the area as fast as possible.  Talk to people please, then talk to more, tell them our story because it would be a travesty if these people caused this pub to close.  No more of this same old depressing nonsense.  So, let’s take control of this situation.

Pub

Find out what's on and what we serve.

Dining

Home cooked Lincolnshire food.

Campsite

Camping, Tourers and Motorhomes

Glamping

Glamping accommodation and ensuite pods

Weddings

Stunning marquee wedding venue.

Events

Hosting Events and Functions

Summer Opening Times

Our opening times are reduced come the end of October

Last food orders are at 2pm (lunch sessions) and 8.30 or 9pm (evening sessions). Carvery is served Sunday Lunchtimes until 2.30pm.

The pub is open all day, morning to late over the summer catering for our campers, glampers and visitors serving drinks, cream teas, cakes and selling items from our in house pub shop.  We are a great place as a base for your walk in the Lincolnshire Wolds and along the Viking Way which passes through the village.  A more extensive menu is available during our lunchtimes and evening sessions.

 

For more information click here.

DayDayEvening
Monday Closed Closed
Tuesday Closed Closed
Wednesday Lunch Menu (12-2pm) + Afternoon Teas, Sandwiches & Cakes (All Day) + Bar All Day + Shop All Day Food 6-8.30pm
Thursday Lunch Menu (12-2pm) + Afternoon Teas, Sandwiches & Cakes (All Day) + Bar All Day + Shop All Day Food 6-8.30pm
Friday Lunch Menu (12-2pm) + Afternoon Teas, Sandwiches & Cakes (All Day) + Bar All Day + Shop All Day Food 5-9pm
Saturday Lunch Menu (12-2pm) + Afternoon Teas, Sandwiches & Cakes (All Day) + Bar All Day + Shop All Day Food 5-9pm
Sunday Sunday Carvery (12-2.30pm) + Afternoon Teas, Sandwiches & Cakes (All Day) + Bar All Day + Shop All Day Closed by 7/8pm ish
(No Food)

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