Charlie McVeigh: Stop the postcode lottery for pubs

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I am sure many tied leaseholders boiled over at being told by the OFT that the tie is "working well" for consumers. This in the same week that Punch...

I am sure many tied leaseholders boiled over at being told by the OFT that the tie is "working well" for consumers.

This in the same week that Punch Taverns announced the sale or closure of 1,000 pubs.

How can it be "working well" when poorer areas of Britain face life without access to a pub?

We all know that a tied pub can survive, even flourish in a busy urban or wealthy suburban location. The difficulty for any pub, tied or not, is to survive in a less prosperous area. It's not just the tie which is the issue. The combination of supermarket competition, excessive regulation and high rents have priced pubs out of the market.

Many say that pubs are failing because "they are not good enough". If we define "good" as great beer, decent food, well-trained staff and a reasonable state of decoration it is impossible to deliver this if a reasonable profit cannot be achieved.

The result is a disheartening, expensive pub experience for the customer, creating a spiral of decline, and leading sooner or later to yet more closure statistics.

If this argument is correct, and I believe it is, it means inevitably that we will have whole areas of the country will lose their pubs, a disastrous prospect for society.

Others say or "there is no market for pubs anymore." I disagree and strongly believe there is a market for well-run, well-priced community pubs. Not to mention the vital role the pub plays, especially in a less well-off area.

To prevent yet more closures, the following measures must be put in place:

• End the tie, restructure leases to an affordable level

• Set a minimum price for alcohol

• Slash tax on draught beer and cider

• Reduce regulation

Once the pubs are closed we cannot get them back. Neither will we be able to rely on the jobs they create and the taxes they pay.

Government action is needed NOW to stop the madness.

Charlie McVeigh is an entrepreneur operating in the licensed food and beverages sector. He is the owner and director of Le Café Anglais and the founder of The Draft House Group. His latest venture, Draft House Tower Bridge, opened its doors last month​.

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