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.”

Related topics: Marston's

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Feel the need

Posted by The way Forward,

David. I have no need to satisfy myself in proving my point.
Also I never said anything about charitable work. Just helping out a pal, which looks like is beyond your character. Neither have I stated that it was common for a tied pub to return profits in excess of £100ks, this is the land of the good operators which I know many.

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Off We Go again

Posted by RFM,

We know where this is leading.

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Put up, or . . . . .

Posted by david,

TWF, your reply really tells us all we need to know. We all remember the much-ridiculed and never-substantiated assertions on these forums that tied pubs are commonly producing net profits in excess of £100,000.

Nothing is substantiated via your wheeze of trying to add credibility by saying you do a bit of charitable bar work in one such fully-tied pub for which you claim the net profit to be in excess of £120,000.

Saying that the pub is operated as a limited company and that you have “checked out the annual returns” is so much hogwash unless you’re prepared to either identify the pub or its company number. How easy is that for you to do, and have the satisfaction of proving your point?

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