Debbie Bollard: 2020 – Reflections on a year to forget

Debbie Bollard Hough & Bollard
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“I wonder what we will say as a nation when we look back in 10 or maybe 20 years and see the long term damage that has been done by shutting down huge swathes of the economy – in particular the hospitality sector’




How will you look back on 2020?

With mixed emotions; frustration, anger and disappointment at the disaster that has unfolded this year with the handling of the pandemic and Brexit negotiations; it has never been harder for a business to try and stay afloat.

I have seen several Clients leave the industry and I doubt they will be the last. However I also saw resilience and determination in businesses to quickly adapt to what they were able to achieve and succeed.

What, if any, were your highlights of the year?

Well there was EAG in January with the usual opportunity to meet up with Clients in person and which I will really miss this January; I hope the online EAG is a success. In March I looked to see what else the Company could do and broadened the range of services available and which has stopped any financial downturn.

How have the events of 2020 changed your view on how you run your organisation, how we run our industry and how the various authorities run our country?

When I set up Hough & Bollard I planned to work from an office at home and do as much work as possible online and paperless, so for me lockdown did not create many challenges for the business.

I was however exceedingly frustrated with the length of delays from some local authorities in dealing with Client matters and alarmingly I am still finding some who 9 months on are still using Coronavirus as an excuse for any issues whether relevant or not.

The Institute of Licensing had to work with several local authorities that were refusing to accept applications even though there was no legislation to justify their position.

I do think that leaders of all countries have had an extremely difficult year trying to lead their people through the pandemic and make the right decisions with an ever changing scenario.

Some have succeeded better than others, maybe not on numbers in hospital and deaths because that cannot be avoided unless everyone is in permanent lockdown, but some have manged to lead their population in a calm and effective way, in instilling confidence and there I think our Government has failed miserably.

We are as a nation reluctant to surrender our liberty and rights and there is great tension between those who feel we need to accept casualties so we can get on with running businesses and driving the economy and those who believe that no life should be sacrificed. I wonder what we will say as a nation when we look back in 10 or maybe 20 years and see the long term damage that has been done by shutting down huge swathes of the economy – in particular the hospitality sector.

Covid, Brexit, The Gambling Review: what do you think will happen in 2021?

Covid is something we will have to learn to live with; I imagine that by the end of next year we will be able to celebrate with our families and friends but I can’t see it happening until well into the year, and that will be subject to a good vaccine uptake and a robust testing regime.

I work at Glastonbury every year and I would be delighted but very surprised if that is not cancelled again although some smaller festivals may be able to go ahead Brexit has happened; will we have a deal? That depends on whether both sides stop playing theatrics in an attempt to prove to their voters that they are fighting to the bitter end.

In the end a good deal is important to everyone in Europe and I don’t think either side genuinely wants us to walk off without a deal.

The Gambling Review will be all about online and any changes for land based gambling will be just an afterthought!

If you had to pick a Hero(ine) of 2020 who would it be and who would be your folk devil?

There have been some amazing people who have gone above and beyond this year in all walks of life but for a well known person, Rishi Sunak for his economic measures and in particular the Furlough scheme gets my vote as a suitable hero.

Folk devil – … the jury is still out.

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