Marston’s chief blames politicians for piling financial pressures on to marginal pubs

By James Wallin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Community

Huntsman supporters: (l-r) Rosie Burton, Barbara Brown, Peter Brown and John Bruin outside their local
Huntsman supporters: (l-r) Rosie Burton, Barbara Brown, Peter Brown and John Bruin outside their local
The chief executive of Marston’s has written to a campaigner trying to save one of the brewer’s pubs from closure to say the actions of politicians have hit community locals hard.

Ralph Findlay wrote to Peter Brown to explain why Marston’s considers the Huntsman in the village of Cosby in Leicestershire commercially unviable.

The pub is due to close next month and has been earmarked for retail use. But Brown said Marston’s had turned down an offer to continue using the building as a pub.

He said: “The idea was to offer classic British pub grub, which is something we don’t have in the village.

“This is a pretty village close to Leicester and there is a real opportunity to make that sort of business work here.”

However, Findlay’s letter warned  Brown that “regrettably, when a pub is converted, the reason is usually that it was not in reality an asset the community valued sufficiently — in other words, the pub is no longer capable of generating enough business to keep it going”.

He added: “It can be difficult for communities to make that commercial assessment, but I am obliged to do so — bearing in mind that I would usually prefer to keep pubs as pubs.”

Economically 'marginal'

He said the actions of politicians had not helped the plight of pubs, saying: “Rising business taxes such as rates and beer duty (although duty was cut by 1p per pint in 2014, between 2008 and 2012 it increased by over 40%), and increased legislation governing licensed premises, mean that pubs have to generate more turnover than ever before to break even.

“The consequence is that more pubs — particularly smaller village pubs — have become marginal in economic terms, which is why we see pressure on pubs in rural communities across the country.”

On the Huntsman, a Marston’s spokesperson added: “We do not take the decision to alter the use of pubs lightly and we recently gave a public consultation for the parishioners to explain the principle of the proposed new scheme.”

The Pied Piper

Customers at the Pied Piper in Cannock, Staffordshire, have also expressed dismay at plans to turn their pub into housing.

A planning application has been submitted to demolish the Marston’s pub and build a two-storey block of 16 flats for sheltered living.

But regular Bob McCombe said the community has been left in the dark.

He said: “We only know about the planning application because of the signs going up. We have no idea when the pub is closing. The tenant that is there is only half way through a five-year lease.

“This is our pub and we should be given the chance to have our say on what happens to it.”

A Marston’s spokesman said: “The campaigners have not received a closure date because planning permission has not been approved.”

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