SIBA chief slams pubs minister Bob Neill's inaction

By Mike Berry

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Alcoholic beverage Beer Public house Bob neill

Grocock: Hit out at Bob Neill
Grocock: Hit out at Bob Neill
Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) chief executive Julian Grocock has attacked Community Pubs Minister Bob Neill for his lack of action in reducing beer duty levels.

Grocock used his address at the SIBA annual conference in Stratford-upon-Avon last week to lambast Neill’s track record, as well as a speech he gave earlier that week at a Campaign for Real Ale parliamentary reception.

“Bob is a very nice chap and likes going to the pub. He smiles very nicely. But the fact is that he has no real power,” Grocock said. “He didn’t say anything to help brewers and our industry.

“As he spoke I was thinking about the Emperor Nero and heard the sound of violins. By the end of his speech there was an entire orchestra playing. Bob is fiddling while Rome burns. The industry is suffering at the hands of heinous Government polices.”

However, other industry figures were less critical of Neill and pointed to the Government introducing a series of measures to help support community pubs, including reviewing restrictive covenants and community right to buy.

Earlier, SIBA chairman Keith Bott accused the Government of “putting the health of the nation at risk” through its alcohol taxation. He said that beer volumes have fallen while spirits, wine and cider are all in growth, thanks to a tax system that puts brewers and the pubs that sell beer at a disadvantage.

“Punishing beer duty levels are clearly responsible for the societal changes that have taken place in the 32 years since SIBA was formed,” Bott said. “Alcohol taxation is driving drinkers out of the pub — the only place where alcohol consumption is supervised. The Government’s policies have been putting at risk the health of the nation.”

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