Related tags Rural pubs Alcoholic beverage Roger protz

Drink-drive law is hard on rural pubs I read your publication every week, and I have to say that I often find the views of Roger Protz to be rather...

Drink-drive law is hard on rural pubs

I read your publication every week, and I have to say that I often find the views of Roger Protz to be rather bizarre and widely different from my own and those of other experienced people I know in the pub business.

His latest piece (MA, 13 December 2007), which is something of a repetition of what he wrote in your 11 January 2007 edition, repeats his view that the closure of rural pubs is all to do with greedy pub owners and developers who see more profit in changing the use of pubs rather than trying to continue with very diminished trade.

To be fair to Mr Protz, he does make the point about absurdly low supermarket alcoholic drink prices hitting the pub trade, but I am quite sure that the main reason for rural pub closures is the one factor which he discounts - the drink-drive law.

In both articles, Mr Protz makes no mention of the colossal changes in social habits which have been to the detriment of the pub trade and made worse, I am certain, by the drink-drive situation. This is a staggering omission.

We now have 24/7 shopping, satellite TV, cheap flights, and the internet among many other developments that appeal greatly to the population. Before all these attractions, pub businesses thrived.

And rural pubs benefited from the increasing number of car owners who liked nothing better than a trip with their friends and families to where a few drinks could be enjoyed. The law has put a virtual stop to this simple pleasure.

Mr Protz's assertion that people have learned to live with the breathalyser is not my experience.

People like to go to a pub when they feel like it and leave when the mood takes them. If they have to plan pub visits in advance, the spontaneity and appeal is gone and many people have simply decided not to bother going to rural pubs.

Now, if they do make the effort to visit a rural pub, they cannot even enjoy a smoke, which is a further disincentive for many. Has Mr Protz not noticed these social changes?

When rural pubs close, the reason is invariably the obvious one: inadequate trade. Local residents cannot expect their pub to exist if they do not use it; someone has to be able to extract a living from the business for it to remain open and, with the amount of new legislation in recent years, plus the increased overheads, it is not easy.

Rural areas have been hit by the loss of churches, schools, post offices, shops and other businesses and services, usually due to under use. Has Mr Protz given a thought as to why all these other amenities no longer exist? Pubs that cease to trade are invariably in precisely the same category.

If the drink-drive limit is further reduced, there is not the slightest doubt that the consequence will be an acceleration in the rate of rural pub closures.

RSA Reed

The Pheasant Inn, Linley Brook, Bridgnorth, Shropshire

Capital gains tax: no thanks, Darling

All this current talk about 10% tax on capital gains is a load of baloney!

If we make an exact comparison and you're a standard-rate taxpayer, you'll only be paying 5.5% tax on a capital gain under the current regime instead of the proposed 18%.

There's no such thing as a 10% rate of tax (or a 5.5% rate of tax). Taper relief simply means that after two years of owning a business (and then selling it) only a quarter of the gain is subject to tax.

In other words, 10% is a quarter of 40% (the higher rate of tax at the moment).

The great tragedy of this legislation is that standard-rate tax payers are going to be paying nearly four times as much tax, or possibly more, depending upon how long they have been trading (CGT is a very complex tax).

This will affect freeholders and leaseholders in particular (where the vocational aspect of serving the local community is not profit driven).

A perfect example is of a freehouse sale this month where, after 16 years tenure, my clients have sold to retire. Their tax bill is £5,666.80. It would have been £30,048.66 under the new legislation (and nil under retirement relief, which was phased out before the introduction of taper relief).

How would you like to be facing retirement more than £24,000 worse off? Living in a fascist country, or what?

David R Jones, FFA AIB

David R Jones & Co, Financial Accountants, Wetherby, West Yorkshire

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