Newcastle MP urges more help for local pubs

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15 Jul 2013

Paul Farrelly, Labour Member of Parliament for Newcastle, has added to calls for the government to give more support to community pubs up and down the land.

After nine years of self-regulation, during which the big pub companies have dominated and thousands of local pubs have closed owing to high rents, the government has now agreed to consult on possible changes to the industry.

Writing in response to the consultation, Mr Farrelly called for the government to step in to tackle the problem by introducing a statutory code of practice as well as an independent adjudicator in cases of dispute between pub tenants and the big ‘Pubcos’.

Mr Farrelly said: ‘While the industry has been regulating itself, some large pub companies have been taking an unreasonably large slice out of pub profits, leaving licensees struggling to make a living or to keep their pubs open.’

‘What we need is a fairer deal for licensees tied to large pub companies to stop the large Pubcos charging the excessive rents and high beer prices which are driving customers away.’

Under the proposals currently being consulted on, all pub company licensees could in future be offered a wider range of leasehold options, giving them greater flexibility and meaning that the average tied pub tenant might be up to £4,000 a year better off.

Mr Farrelly added: ‘At the moment, hundreds of independent brewers are unable to supply a significant number of our local pubs. The government needs to address these issues urgently as well – not just to benefit tenants and customers but the wider economy as well.’

All responses to the consultation will now be looked at before the government publishes its own response later this year.

Living in Alsagers Bank, a former mining village just outside Newcastle town centre, Mr Farrelly  has witnessed first hand the effect that poor pub management had on the local community.

Several years ago, the village local the Gresley Arms was bought by one of the biggest of the Pubcos, Punch Taverns.

It was then run down under a succession of poor managers, until Punch finally sold out nearly two years ago to previous award-winning tenants Carl and Sarah Smith. They have brought people back in droves and returned the Gresley to being a successful focal point for the village and visitors to Alsagers Bank, with its spectacular views across the Cheshire Plain.