MPs urged to protect pubs from closure21st January, 2014 by Lauren Eads
An opposition day debate on UK pub companies will today be held in the House of Commons following mounting pressure to prevent continued closures.
Pubs are currently closing in the UK at a rate of 26 per week with more than half reporting earning less than £10,000 in 2013.
Typically publicans are required to buy all their beer from their pub company and are not allowed to buy on the open market which can inflate costs and prevents a free market.
CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) is calling for a Pubs Watchdog to prevent big pub companies from putting individual publicans under pressure and at risk of closure due to unfair practices.
A petition, launched by CAMRA ahead of today’s debate, has already received more than 26,000 signatures.
It calls for relaxed rules to help pubs including a “guest beer right” to allow a landlord to buy in one beer on the open market, the option of a rent only contract to allow a landlord to buy all their beer on the open market, and statutory rules to govern the relationship between landlords and pub companies.
Mike Benner, CAMRA’s chief executive said: “Pubs are closing as a result of big pub companies squeezing the profits of publicans with costly rents and high beer prices.
“The Government has recognised that costly rents combined with high beer prices are damaging some pubs.
“We are backing the Government’s plans to act but words and proposals need to be translated into urgent action via the introduction of a statutory code, Pubs Watchdog, a guest beer right and a market rent only option for licensees tied to the large pub companies.”
“Our petition is the latest demonstration of public dissatisfaction at the way far too many publicans are treated by the big pub companies.
“A survey run by the Government saw 96% of people responding supporting action.”
“We urge all those who care about the future of their local pub to sign our petition to help prevent pubs being sold off by the big pub companies for conversion to housing, convenience stores or even more betting shops.”
The opposition day debate, called following the recent completion of a government consultation on pub companies,will be led by shadow pubs minister and MP Toby Perkins.
He said: “Too many pubs across Britain are closing their doors and we urgently need action but ministers are dragging their feet.
“A wide range of bodies from the Federation of Small Businesses, CAMRA and trade unions to the BIS Select Committee and the All Party Save the Pub Group have recognised that the relationship between the big pub companies and local landlords is an unfair one which needs to be fixed and have backed plans for a proper statutory code with teeth.
“Pubs are vital hubs in communities up and down the country.
“By forcing a House of Commons debate we are demanding that the Government act to support them rather than caving in to powerful vested interests.”
To sign the petition go here.