MPs unite to save pubs

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pubs House of lords Public house Pub group

Greg Mulholland
Greg Mulholland
Reforming the beer tie is a key aim of the new all-party group for MPs, headed by outspoken Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland.

A new group for MPs that aims to help save the pub - including reform of the beer tie - is launched today.

The All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, headed by outspoken Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, lists reform of the beer tie as a key aim to help struggling pubs.

It's listed aims are:

- Calling for lower levels of beer duty and scrapping planned rises.

- Challenging the Government to look at supermarket beer pricing.

- For "reform of the current model of the tie", which "makes it impossible for some licensees to make a living and leads to pub closures including by making some pubs unviable that would be viable if free of tie".

- For a change in the law to outlaw the practice of restrictive covenants whereby companies are selling pubs on the basis that it is prevented from being a pub.

- For changes to planning law to properly recognise the importance of and to offer more protection to pubs faced with closure.

- Other issues as deemed relevant by the group.

- To give MPs help and guidance in support of campaigns against pub closures in their constituency.

Today's event in Westminster will see MPs and peers encouraged to put their name to the save the pub cause.

Mulholland, a supporter of the anti-pubco Fair Pint campaign, has previously held a meeting with a number of trade groups to establish an umbrella pro-pub campaign.

A statement from Mulholland's office said the group "will be independent, and will work with all associations, organisations and campaign groups, and also licensees and pub customers, to secure the future of the British pub".

The MP said: "The closure of pubs up and down the country is a tragedy not only for the communities they serve, but for the nation as pubs are a part of our history and heritage.

"This is something that should and must be taken much more seriously in Westminster and Whitehall, and it is time that national and local Government accepted their responsibilities to protect and support pubs. This new group will push them to do so.

"Clearly we need a reversal in the ill-conceived hikes in beer duty and a more level playing field between the on and off trade, but it is also time to address the fact that the way some companies operate the tie is no longer fair and is making some pubs unviable.

"There are also pubs being closed simply to suit shareholders interests when the pubs in themselves could and would be taken on by another operator.

"If we are serious as a nation about protecting our pubs and our heritage, then it is high time we enshrined the pub in law and gave communities a say before they are taken from them.

"The new group will make common cause with some groups on some issues and others on other issues, but unlike some in the trade we will address all the things that are threatening and closing pubs.

"It is also time to listen more to the voices of licensees and of pub customers as well as the many trade associations who represent particular sections of the trade, but we look forward to working with everyone in Britain who genuinely wants to fight for the future of the British pub."

The group's mission statement:

"The Save the Pub APPG's purpose is to bring together Members of the House of Commons and Lords who want to add their voice to the efforts to preserve and protect the British pub.

"Pubs are now closing at a rate estimated at 39 pubs a week (and this is rising every week). The group will share the profound concern that pubs up and down the country and being closed, for a variety of reasons, often when they don't need to close, and that more must be done in terms for support and legislative changes to address this.

"The group will share a belief that the British pub is an important part of this country's history and heritage and hugely important to the communities they serve as a focus for community, social, sporting and charitable activity; and also that the traditional public house provides a sociable and controlled drinking environment which is therefore important in terms of encouraging responsible, sociable drinking.

"The group aims to work alongside the pubs industry, trade associations and pressure groups to raise the challenges and issues facing publicans and pubs."

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