Cut red tape, new pubs minister urged

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Red tape, Small business, Business

Neill with Kate and David Deacon of The Shoulder of Mutton in Kirkby Overblow, Yokrshire
Neill with Kate and David Deacon of The Shoulder of Mutton in Kirkby Overblow, Yokrshire
New community pubs minister Bob Neill has been urged to ease the "jaw-dropping" burden of bureaucracy and red tape currently choking the life out of...

New community pubs minister Bob Neill has been urged to ease the "jaw-dropping" burden of bureaucracy and red tape currently choking the life out of thousands of community locals.

Pubco bosses said easing regulatory controls is a priority as Neill begins to explore ways of making under-pressure pubs viable again.

Scrapping the beer duty escalator is also essential if small pubs are to survive and continue to play their vital community role, argued a number of operators.

One multiple operator has also called for a freeze on business rates to help smaller pubs compete.

Marston's Pub Company managing director Alistair Darby called for an end to more punitive legislation which would heap more costs onto pubs.

He echoed calls for an end to the duty escalator, which he branded an "unfair tax."

Managing director of north west-based Daniel Thwaites, Peter Morris, said Conservative MP Neill had to show real empathy with the small businesses sector.

"Pubs and small business have to have a fighting chance and that means

easing back the huge burden of red tape.

"The volume of bureaucracy heaped on small business is truly jaw-dropping," Morris said.

"Many suburban pubs are struggling. These are often the last man standing and hold a community together."

Knee-jerk reaction

Managing director of family brewer JW Lees, William Lees-Jones, called for any changes in the Licensing Act to be properly thought out.

"There is also a convincing case for ending the beer duty escalator and also to urgently review the progressive beer duty system, which has given small brewers an unfair tax advantage over medium-size operators," he said.

Multiple operator Chris Holmes, of the Castle Rock Brewery, Nottingham, echoed calls for less red tape and regulation, but urged that there should be no "knee-jerk reaction" in changes to the Licensing Act.

"Whatever the problems caused by alcohol in society it is not the fault of pubs, but more the supermarkets and their cheap prices," he said.

Another multiple operator, John Kisbey, boss of pubco Moyo, called for a freeze on business rates. "Many have been hit badly by the smoking ban and are seeing rates shoot up.

"At one of our pubs we are being charged almost double, which takes a huge amount out of the business."

Anti-beer tie campaigners will hope Neill takes a close interest in on-going reforms of the tie in the run-up to the June 2011 deadline for reform set by the Government.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which wanted a community pubs minister appointed, hailed the news.

It said: "It is vital the pub and beer sector has a powerful voice in Government."

Related topics: Legislation

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