2017 predictions

Mulholland calls for unity to fight business rates

By Liam Coleman contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cheers: Greg Mulholland's new year message for the industry
Cheers: Greg Mulholland's new year message for the industry

Related tags: British pub confederation, Public house

The chair of the British Pub Confederation has predicted that the pub industry will be united on at least one thing in the new year.

Greg Mulholland MP, who also chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, believes that campaigners from all corners of the industry will be united in a campaign for fairer business rates​ for pubs.

"Next year will see the British Pub Confederation, the voice of pubgoers and licensees and the voice of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the voice of the pubcos and big brewers, join together to powerfully campaign for fairer business rates for pubs.

"With the sector's two main voices, who as is well known don't always agree, campaigning together, then MPs and ministers can be persuaded that the current rates regime is grossly unfair to pubs," he told The Morning Advertiser​.

"Of course, we'd like to see a further freeze in beer duty, but it is time for campaigning to focus on direct taxation that causes an unfair burden on pubs, which is business rates and unfair levels of VAT compared to supermarkets," he added.

Newby prediction

On the pubs code and its adjudicator, Paul Newby, Mulholland predicted that 2017 would not be a good year: "I think 2017 will see the end of Paul Newby," he said.

"Mr Newby has finally, a year after his appointment, published​ the reality of his ongoing financial links to Fleurets and to the pubcos he is supposed to regulate, and he did so the day the House of Commons rose for recess. To end the year in such a fashion will impress no one."

CAMRA's future

The Liberal Democrat MP has, on top of this, called for greater unity from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

He said: "Next year will, I hope, also be the year that sees CAMRA nationally re-emerge as a campaigning voice for pubs. It has been very sad as a CAMRA member of some 20-odd years to see such a lack of any effective campaigning from CAMRA HQ, presumably due to the internal turmoil caused by disagreements over the so-called revitalisation project.

"Pubs, CAMRA members and, above all, hard-working and campaigning CAMRA branches deserve better and if they don't get it, then serious questions will start to be asked about CAMRA's direction and leadership." 

Development rights controversy

Mulholland added that the controversial vote​ in parliament on pub planning rights would still be a contentious issue in the new year. "Next year will be the year that many more MPs, who see wanted and viable pubs in their constituency turned into supermarkets or offices, wake up and realise they are being misled by the BBPA, ministers and supermarkets over permitted development rights," he said.

"Pub campaigners, led by the Protect Pubs campaign, the British Pub Confederation and heroic CAMRA branches will continue to campaign until it is clear that any MP who blocks pubs being sui generis is anti-pub and probably rather too close to pubcos or supermarkets."

'Here is to a great 2017'

Mulholland finally had a positive message for the pub industry as it goes into the new year. "So 2017 will see yet more debate over Newby, Brexit, Heineken and Trump. The one thing that people from all sides of all arguments agree on is that the best place for these debates is in a pub," he told The Morning Advertiser​. 

"Here is to a great 2017 for British pubs and publicans and in the meantime, a huge thanks to all those wonderful folk who work so hard in our pubs both at Christmas and all year round. Cheers!" 

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