The waiting was finally over this week as venues across Leighton-Linslade, Dunstable and Houghton Regis and discovered who had been crowned Best Bar None.
There were 22 accredited venues in the running this year across the three areas, with the winners were announced at a ceremony at the Grove Theatre, in Dunstable, on Tuesday evening.
Claiming the overall prizes for the two areas were The Lancer in Lake Street, LeightonBuzzard and Dunstable Leisure Centre (repeating its success from 2015).
While the People’s Vote prizes went to Club Cookies in Dunstable and The Black Lion in Leighton Buzzard.
Representatives from the venues were joined at the presentation evening by a host of invited guests including chairman of the national Best Bar None scheme Robert Humphreys.
They enjoyed entertainment from jazz band the John Cook Trio CG3+1 and a chance to try the commemorative Best Bar None bitter brewed by the Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company, sponsor of this year’s People’s Vote awards.
Local businesses and individuals donated prizes to a raffle which raised £360 for the Street Pastors, a charity which sees volunteers from local churches head out in our towns from 10pm to 4am on Saturdays to help those in need on the street.
Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Community Services, praised the success of this year’s scheme, the third time Best Bar None has run in Central Bedfordshire.
He said: “It is amazing how quickly the profile of Best Bar None has been raised across Central Bedfordshire – and that is testament to everyone who has worked so hard to make it a success.
“The raised profile of the scheme is obvious too by the fact that more than 2,500 people voted for their favourite venues in the People’s Vote.
“Regardless of your favourite, though, visitors can have confidence visiting any of the accredited premises as they have undergone a rigorous assessment process to show that they are meeting consistently high standards.
“That’s everything from ensuring that visitors and staff feel safe and venues are providing great customer service to the basics like ensuring that toilets are clean and tables are clear of empty plates and glasses.
“So, Best Bar None is win-win for everyone: customers get a better night out, towns and cities become more vibrant places as people want to go there and that has economic benefits for pubs, clubs and leisure venues there.”
The full list of winners and runners-up was:
Best Bar None Overall Winner – Leighton-Linslade: The Lancer; Runners-up: The Dukes and The Swan.
Best Bar None Overall Winner – Dunstable/Houghton Regis: Dunstable Leisure Centre; Runners-up: Club Cookies and Creasey Park Community Football Centre.
People’s Vote Winner – Leighton-Linslade: The Black Lion; Runners-up: The Dukes and The Golden Bell.
People’s Vote Winner – Dunstable/Houghton Regis: Club Cookies; Runners-up: Go Houghton and Dunstable Leisure Centre.
Best Bar None is a national scheme which aims to make towns and cities great places to go out by making pubs, clubs and leisure venues even safer and more welcoming places for visitors.
It is the third year the scheme has run in Central Bedfordshire. The success of the inaugural awards covering Dunstable saw the scheme extended to Houghton Regis in 2015. And this year it also took in venues across Leighton-Linslade.
In total, 22 venues received accreditation being visited by an independent assessor. The full list was:
Leighton-Linslade: Black Lion; The Conservative Club; The Dukes; Golden Bell; Hare Inn; Lancer; The Stag; Swan Hotel.
Dunstable and Houghton Regis: Bird in Hand; Club Cookies; Creasey Park Community Football Club; Dunstable Leisure Centre; First & Last; Froth & Elbow; Gary Cooper; Grove Theatre; Highwayman; The Old Sugar Loaf; White Lion; Go Houghton; The Kings Arms; Old Red Lion.
Raffle prizes worth a total of £700 were donated by the following: Whitbread; Sainsbury’s; Celebrations, Dunstable; Latte Heaven, Dunstable; The Cake House, Dunstable; Hair Boutique, Dunstable; Efes BBQ, Dunstable; Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company; Steve Logan from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue; The Old Sugar Loaf, Dunstable; The Black Lion, Leighton Buzzard; Club Cookies, Dunstable; Dunstable Leisure Centre; Go Houghton; The Dukes; Mayor of Houghton Regis Chris Slough.
For more information about Best Bar None, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/bestbarnone