He was speaking at a reception held by CAMRA and Greg Mulholland, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, in the Parliament last week.
“To CAMRA, you have my support,” said Pickles. “You have my desire to see British pubs go from strength to strength.
“With the consultation (on a statutory code for the relationship between pub companies and tenants) you’ve seen that we’re not prepared to talk the talk, we’re prepared to make a difference.
“We’re doing it not just to be nice to your fine organisation, but because we recognise that the British pub is integral to British life.”
He hailed CAMRA’s campaign to register 300 pubs as Assets of Community Value, saying that it is “ambitious but achievable”.
“Once [the pubs are] registered, it changes the whole nature of the game,” said Pickles. “It’s demonstrated that it is within the grasp of communities to be able to do that.
“I understand that you want to see changes in the law in planning, let me make clear, this is a big changer. Local authorities already have a power through a thing called Article 4 to be able to be sure that the change of use from pub to supermarket or to doctor’s surgery or to solicitors can be stopped.
“Use things, don’t wait for things to happen. Use the power that this gives.”
Pickles also criticised politicians who want to see a ‘café culture’ in Britain, much like in Europe.
He said: “What’s wrong with pub culture? Pub culture is British, you’ll walk outside and there are tourists looking at Big Ben, going up to see Buckingham Palace, perhaps a member of the cast of TOWIE (ITV2 show The Only Way is Essex), and to visit a British pub.”
- The reception also saw Mulholland receive a plaque for being CAMRA’s parliamentary campaigner of the year.