MP: limit pubcos to 2,000 pubs

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Beer orders Conservatism

Mulholland (L): new beer orders required
Mulholland (L): new beer orders required
The Tories must introduce a second set of Beer Orders to limit the pubcos to owning 2,000 pubs if they are serious about saving the British pub. That...

The Tories must introduce a second set of Beer Orders to limit the pubcos to owning 2,000 pubs if they are serious about saving the British pub.

That is according to outspoken pubco critic and Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland who welcomed the new Tory campaign to save the pub but warned the party had missed two key elements — the beer tie and the lack of protection for pubs under planning regulations.

The Conservative campaign calls for a cut in taxes on lower-alcohol drinks such as beer and a rise in taxes on "problem drinks like high-strength ciders and alcopops" while also focusing on enforcing existing laws rather than introducing a raft of new measures.

Mulholland wrote to Tory leader David Cameron in his capacity as chairman of the recently launched All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, which calls for reform of the beer tie.

"What we really need to hear from the Conservative party is how it plans to rectify the unfortunate aftermath of the Beer Orders, and now truly introduce competition and choice into the sector and address the current very real concerns about the supply tie," he said.

"I challenge the Conservative party to right this wrong and to now introduce a policy for a Beer Orders Mark 2, that would do this and stop any company, brewing or not, owning more than 2,000 pubs. The current system all too often works only for huge corporations and penalises the small business people that you have a recognised that licensees are. This is not right and must be addressed."

Tory MP Peter Luff, chairman of the Business and Enterprise Committee inquiry into pubco power, also recently suggested that a new set of Beer Orders were required to stop pubs closing (Luff: Are new beer orders required?​).

Planning laws

Mulholland also called for the Conservatives to add changes to planning legislation to its pub-related policies to "ensure there is a statutory process that needs to be followed before pubs are closed that involves genuine community consultation".

He said: "Amazingly, it is perfectly legal to demolish a pub overnight if it is not in a conservation area or similar area of planning control. It is also perfectly legal to make a pub a restaurant or a café (which do not have the same status that a pub has as a focus of a community) without change of use.

"So any set of policies that are serious about saving pubs must reform planning law to give pubs the importance that we like to say they have."

Mulholland added: "If you really want to support pubs and publicans then listen to licensees, pub customers and pub campaigners not just the voice of the big pub companies and breweries who unsurprisingly will only give you part of the story."

Tory campaign to save the pub​.

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