Last week the Government bowed to pressure and performed a u-turn to introduce legislation to help protect struggling pubs.
Pubs are vital hubs for communities and are valued strongly by local people, but due to the Government’s inaction and broken promises on backing small landlords they are closing at an ever-increasing rate. The number of pub closures a week has recently risen from 12 to 18 and over 200 pubs have been converted to convenience stores in the last two years alone.
Last week’s debate in the House of Commons called for statutory regulation of pub companies. Within 24 hours of this debate the Government spectacularly caved in and backed the call for a statutory code despite dismissing it out of hand as little as three months ago.
I welcome the fact that ministers have decided to think again, but whilst the Government seem to now accept that there is a problem they have still not gone far enough to offer the solution that the broad coalition in the pub industry is calling for.
There is still confusion as to whether they will include a ‘free of tie’ option which many local landlords support as it would allow them to buy their beer on the open market at the best price.
I hope that the Government will take the necessary steps to redress the concerns of campaign groups in the pub sector that still remain and get the code on the statute book as quickly as possible.