James Wilmore: Let's hope our new pubs minister is not a sop

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Related tags: Members of the united kingdom parliament for english constituencies, Uk mps 2005-, Bob neill

So the coalition doesn't think all Labour's ideas were rubbish. Just over five months since David Cameron entered Number 10, we find ourselves with...

So the coalition doesn't think all Labour's ideas were rubbish.

Just over five months since David Cameron entered Number 10, we find ourselves with a new pubs minister - Bob Neill.

Except this time the title has been tweaked to include the word "community", giving it a nice cosy Big Society feel.

Our first pubs minister was of course John Healey, appointed by Labour just a few months before the general election, when the party miraculously decided they did care about pubs after all.

But will Mr Neill, a former barrister, just be a sop like our friend Mr Healey? It's very early days, but the way news of his appointment was handled won't inspire confidence.

There was no official announcement - and neither the Department for Communities and Local Government website or Neill's own website has been updated to reveal this exciting development.

Apparently, the DCLG press office didn't deem Neill's appointment as newsworthy.

Strange one that, seeing as the News of the World​ got very excited about his predecessor Healey's appointment, claiming it as an exclusive.

You would think the coalition might want to shout about a bit of positive news?

It was left to CAMRA to reveal the story, which I understand the group only stumbled upon after conversations with civil servants.

But let's leave cynicism to one side for the time being and give the man a chance.

As everyone in the industry knows, he has plenty on his plate. And after appealing for publicans to get in touch, in his initial statement, I'm sure pub folk won't hold back.

All we ask is that pubs are not used as a political football, as so often happens.

"As minister with responsibility for pubs, I am determined to protect the valuable role pubs play and help them to thrive," said Neill. We'll be watching Bob…

Related topics: Legislation

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