Sunday, 13 January 2013

Brandon Lewis: celebrating the pub...but doing little to help

Brandon Lewis MP and Minister writes in Conservative Home about the pub:

My new year's resolution is to make the Great British pub the hub of a resurgent economy.

Like most small businesses, life for the local hasn't been easy in recent times. Some have been forced to close down, others have been hit hard by rowdy rabble rowsers.

Cheers Brandon - thanks for the enthusiasm. But let's look at the facts - pubs are still closing, the government has launched a new round of attacks on drinking. Not just minimum pricing, not just failing to do anything about the beer duty escalator but a new licensing regime that gives 'health authorities' the chance to stop the granting of licenses.

And while Brandon crows about supporting publicans as 'entrepreneurs', he fails even to mention the one thing that has done the most damage to the pub - that smoking ban. Thousands of people now stop at home or go round their neighbours with a bottle or some cans rather than visit the pub - simply because it means they can smoke.

Despite Brandon's false bonhomie about the pub, I'm prepared to bet that there will be fewer pubs at the end of 2013 than there are open today. And that the government's anti-alcohol strategy - if imposed - will only make matters worse.

Or maybe this will be the pub's salvation:

...the ideal place to grab a morning coffee break, with over 3 million cups of coffee sold in a year.

Yes, Brandon - that will work!


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