'Anti-Wetherspoons' app lists almost 500 Norfolk pubs

Ned Poulter and Shane Jones

Ned Poulter, left, and Shane Jones are hoping their app Neverspoons will encourage more people to chose independent pubs as the lockdown eases. - Credit: Supplied by Ned Poulter

A mobile phone app which aims to counter pub giant JD Wetherspoon now lists almost 500 independent and small chain pubs across Norfolk. 

Called Neverspoons, the app was launched last July by Ned Poulter and Shane Jones as a way of supporting smaller businesses coping with the pandemic restrictions. 

Mr Poulter, who is based in Manchester, said the app showed where people could find about 42,000 pubs across the UK.

A screenshot from the Neverspoons app, showing pubs on the north Norfolk coast. 

A screenshot from the Neverspoons app, showing pubs on the north Norfolk coast. - Credit: Neverspoons/Google Maps

He said: "In Norfolk in particular we've got 484 listed on the app and of those, 223 we know of have pub gardens, so that's one in two. I know things have changed quite a lot and pubs that didn't have a pub garden before might have added an outside space to drink in. We rely on users to submit the data."

Mr Poulter said statements by the boss of Wetherspoon after the first lockdown was announced prompted them to launch the app.

He said: "It was fairly well documented that Tim Martin, the CEO of Wetherspoon, told many of his staff that they should seek alternative employment rather than sit around waiting for pubs to reopen.

"It's one of these instances when there is a company which has a relative monopoly of the industry, and they've got the money to sit this out, but a lot of independent businesses don't have what it costs to survive." 

A screenshot from the Neverspoons app, showing pubs in Norwich.

A screenshot from the Neverspoons app, showing pubs in Norwich. - Credit: Neverspoons/Google Maps

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But Mr Poulter acknowledged not everyone thought the app was a good idea, as Wetherspoon had a lot of fans.

He said: "People either love us or they hate us. We're hoping it will make a difference to those people who have had a pretty rotten 18 months."

From April 12 pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers sitting outside in groups of up to six. People will be able to go inside hospitality venues again from May 17, and all restrictions are due to be lifted on June 21. 

Ian Stamp, chairman of the Norwich and District branch of Campaign for Real Ale, told this newspaper that pubs would face a challenge to rebuild their businesses.

He said: “Pubs are going to have to encourage people to return and it's not going to be easy because some people are still not quite ready to come back."

A spokesman for Wetherspoon declined to comment on the app. 

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