Bob Neill is Community Pubs Minister

By Ewan Turney & John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Community pubs minister, Public house

Neill with Kate and David Deacon of The Shoulder of Mutton in Kirkby Overblow, Yorkshire
Neill with Kate and David Deacon of The Shoulder of Mutton in Kirkby Overblow, Yorkshire
Conservative MP Bob Neill has been appointed as Community Pubs Minister, following pressure from the Campaign for Real Ale.

Conservative MP Bob Neill has been appointed as Pubs Minister, following pressure from the Campaign for Real Ale.

The post of Pubs Minister, previously held by John Healey, had been scrapped but has now been revived — albeit slightly altered as Community Pubs Minister.

CAMRA wrote to the Prime Minister urging an appointment be made to help protect pubs.

Neill is a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

"The local pub is a great British institution and the social heartbeat of life in our towns and villages, bringing people together and strengthening community relationships," said Neill.

"As Minister with responsibility for pubs, I am determined to protect the valuable role pubs play and help them to thrive.

"As part of our commitment we are giving residents the power to take over local pubs that are threatened with closure, and working with the sector to make sure expert advice is available to support them. I'm keen to hear more from publicans over the coming months about what more the Government can do to protect the local pub."

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Jonathan Mail, CAMRA's head of policy and public affairs, said: "CAMRA are delighted that we once again have a minister responsible for pubs and that supporting pubs remains a Government priority.

"It is vital that the pub and beer sector has a powerful voice within Government to help oppose calls for ever higher taxes and restrictions on pub opening houses.

"Government also has a role in creating an environment which enables pubs to succeed and helping communities save valued pubs under threat of closure.

"The appointment of a minister responsible for pubs follows CAMRA writing to the Prime Minister and close to 2,000 CAMRA members busy lobbying their local MPs."

British Beer and Pub Association director of communications Mark Hastings said: "We very much welcome his appointment.

"We already have a meeting lined up with him and look forward to discussing how Government and industry can work together to support community pubs.

"In particular we will focus on the opportunities within the Government's policy programme to lighten the tax and regulation load and the unique and positive role pubs can play within the localism and Big Society agenda."

All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group chairman Greg Mulholland - tipped by some to become Pubs Minister in the Coalition Government - said: "I was very pleased to hear of the appointment of Bob Neill as Community Pubs Minister and I have written to him to extend my congratulations.

"The appointment of a Community Pubs Minister is a vital step in protecting our local pubs, therefore preserving a British institution.

"I hope Bob can get to work early on investigating and resolving the many issues affecting Britain's ailing pub trade."

Chief Executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) Nick Bish said: "We are delighted that Bob Neill has been appointed as Community Pubs Minister. This announcement is recognition by the government of the enormously important role that pubs play in communities across the country.

"Many licensed retailers are facing real difficulties because of the current financial climate and regulatory costs. ALMR looks forward to working with the newly appointed Minister to tackle the challenges facing our industry.

"The government has made clear that encouraging growth and creating jobs is its top priority. As employers of hundreds of thousands of people across the country, pubs and bars can play a key part in helping our national economic recovery, if there is the right regulatory framework and government encouragement for our endeavours.

Pub closures

Neill has previously highlighted the closure rate of pubs under the Labour Government​ but also announced the £4.3m community pubs fund would be axed​.

Last month, the MP for Bromley & Chislehurst in Kent joined a protest protesting against plans to convert a local pub, the Broomwood in St Paul's Cray, into a McDonald's.

He also visited licensees Kate and David Deacon of The Shoulder of Mutton in Kirkby Overblow, Yorkshire in September to hear how they had added a village shop to their pub.

Related topics: Legislation

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