The initiative, launched by the head of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG), the MP for Burton Andrew Griffiths, and supported by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, called for MPs to support the trade by working behind the bar.
Griffiths said the initiative will give publicans the chance to build a relationship with their local MP and allow them to discuss the major issues affecting their businesses.
The scheme also has the support of community pubs minister Bob Neill, who has agreed to work a shift.
Sheryll Murray, who represents South East Cornwall, was the first MP in the country to pull pints behind the bar at the Devon & Cornwall Inn, Millbrook, Cornwall, in August. Murray said working the shift gave her a greater understanding of the pressures faced by publicans and will influence her policy decisions during the next session of Parliament.
She said: “It made me realise that some licensees are under intense pressure because of the high rents. It also made me realise how important pubs are to the local community and that we (MPs) have to do what we can to support them.”
She is also set to do a second stint at a St Austell pub, where she hopes to get a better understanding of the difference between regional brewers and larger tenanted pub companies.
Selby & Ainsty MP and vice-chairman of the APPBG Nigel Adams got behind the bar at the Crown in Great Ouseburn, North Yorkshire, last week. He raised concerns about the high rents charged by property investment companies that want a quick return on investment.
“There is a lot of pressure on licensees who have taken on expensive leases,” he said. “I think as legislators we are expected to make decisions that affect small businesses and pubs.
“It is important that we get out there and see what it is like at the coal face.”
Licensee Russell Ham, from the Devon & Cornwall Inn, where Murray worked her shift, said: “My main aim was to let her see first hand how hard we work as tied licensees. Even with my business doing well, the margins are tight. I think she is in a better position to understand now.”
Licensee Liz Jackson, at the Crown where Adams worked, said the event went “very well”.
She was able to speak to Adams about the major issues of utility costs and business rates. She said: “We had a chat on a range of issues and he asked what he could do to help. As a business it is very difficult at the moment. I think he now has an understanding that running a pub is a culture and lifestyle for us.”
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