Cottages · Food · Wilderness


Compliance – is not designed for exceptions – Victoria Vyvyan’s Blog

Back to all News

Posted on by

‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions’ (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V)

Compliance – is not designed for exceptions

February is open season for Compliance. It’s those long dark days and endless storms. Half way through January Compliance look at each other and say, ‘Something must be done’ and they pick up the phone and start making appointments. All compliance has Officers – because in the background is the phantasm of ‘enforcement.’ – Scary right? Hint of the Samuel Beckett – to mix my dramatists. And there are real Compliance Officers who are charged with a messianic fervour about their work, and there is a whole phalanx of other people who will tell you what you have to do, but who are in fact NOT Compliance Officers, but trying to sell you something. Or they tell you that you can’t run your business without them – like, oh I don’t know, Visit Britain.

For an old business it’s a well-worn track. Before they come you give yourself a nervous breakdown going over all of your paperwork. When you did it you cross referenced everything with the book of rules that you found on the internet, and just to be sure you looked up all of the relevant statutes and referenced them too, and then you made at least three copies (with plans), filed one, sent one to the relevant Officer and let the other one sit around on your desk until it mysteriously got cleared away (lost). By the way this doesn’t help – the statute bit in particular, just makes them cross. Actions are listed, actions are actioned, relevant staff are TOLD, and ongoing plans are actioned going forward – with a little place for signatures and dates.

With a new business these visitors start from scratch. Less scary than Customs and Excise but not chummy, not chummy at all. In reverse order of scariness it goes … at No.5 The nice ladies from the Wedding Licencing, at No.4 the Fire Officer on Preliminary Visit (although he does have uniform), at 3 it’s Listed Buildings, no uniform (sadly – he could have something like a Beefeater), but the power of ‘Criminal Action’, so not one to be ignored, at No.2 Back to Licencing, but this time with alcohol. Finally, with no competition even near, at No 1 is … The Environmental Health (always with a definite article ‘THE’), about whom I don’t even dare try to say something funny lest they deduce it by the pattern of Ravens flying over their office in Camborne, or the pricking of their thumbs.

So, after the pleasantries, we sit down with the Officer and he gets out a form. The Form has to be filled out before he Inspects The Premises. A new venture needs lots of new compliance.

Question no 1.

Him: What would you call this?

Us: A house.

Him: (looking around doubtfully at the Drawing Room and the Scaffolding and the door to the Chapel) Detached? Or semi-detached? Or,’ (losing confidence in the questions), ‘Terraced?’

Ten minutes of general ad lib conversation on the nature of houses

Him: I have ‘Hall’ on the list, shall I tick that?

Us: Doubtfully, not knowing if this will at some time in the future change our tax code and cause all of our insurance to be void. Can’t you just put House/Detached.

Him: Not really, it doesn’t really fulfil the criteria.

Us: Does Hall?

Him: (sadly) Not really.


Samuel Beckett eat your heart out.

Leave a Reply