Tag Archives: kris hopkins

Opinion: Pubs matter so why not protect them in planning law?

Today has seen the third House of Commons debate on pubs in less than three months: rather like the proverbial London Bus. But with the rate of pub closures in the UK still running at 29 a week, a marginal decline from 31 a year ago, communities’ cries for help have been coming along rather faster.  There is a growing issue with pubs being converted to supermarkets in particular.  With long-awaited reform of the industry grinding its way through the House of Lords (where the resistance of Tory peer and former pubco director Lord Hodgson, sometimes rather distasteful, is thankfully proving futile), the focus is now on planning.

The Coalition has for the first time recognised pubs as community assets in national planning law, albeit weakly, and has introduced the Assets of Community Value process which is starting to let a few communities buy their pubs.  A fortnight ago, Lib Dem Minister Stephen Williams announced some additional protection for communities who get pubs listed as an ACV by removing permitted development rights.  But an amendment by Conservative Charlotte Leslie MP, backed by Lib Dem Pub Champion Greg Mulholland, narrowly failed to remove the much-exploited loophole that allows pubcos to sell or lease pubs to Tesco (formerly) and the Co-Op (principally at present) for supermarket conversion that sees often successful pubs close forever.  That amendment reflected Lib Dem policy.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 28 Comments

Gareth Epps to stand for Liberal Democrats against Community Pubs minister at the General Election

Gareth EppsLong standing Liberal Democrat, Glee Club MC, CAMRA member and anti-pubco campaigner Gareth Epps has been selected to fight the seat of Keighley in Yorkshire at May’s General Election. Gareth has sought out this seat as the current incumbent is the community pubs minister Kris Hopkins. He highlighted all the reasons why he was, shall we say, dissatisfied with Hopkins’ performance in a blog post n November:

Mr Hopkins has been given evidence by among others CAMRA locally and nationally that the Article 4 system is not working. The farcical scenes at Wokingham Council where under legal threat from Tesco, officers asked councillors to rescind an Article 4 they had only just granted, illustrate this perfectly. He is siding with the pubcos who are flogging pubs like those in Cuckfield and Earley, and ignoring communities.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 14 Comments

Proof that not *all* Tories are bonkers on Europe (and nor was Mrs Thatcher)

margaret thatcher europeAmidst all the Tory Euro-hysteria (‘Eurotic’, I’ve heard it described as: and I seriously hope I didn’t mis-hear) it’s easy to forget there are a few Tories, a diminishing if stoic band, who have kept tight hold of their senses.

And though it was David Cameron’s desperate last-ditch pitch for the job of Tory leader — his 2005 promise to his party’s Europhobes to withdraw the Tories from the mainstream centre-right EPP alliance, a policy even David Davis wouldn’t touch — which has, slowly but inevitably, dragged the party ever more fringewards, a few of his backbenchers remain hopeful they can persuade him, even now, to do the sensible thing.

Here’s some of what they’ve written to him:

We acknowledge the EU’s shortcomings and understand the desire and, under the Lisbon Treaty the possibility, to repatriate powers. However, we do our nation, as well as Europe, a disservice by not confidently exerting the same level of engagement and leadership as we demonstrate in organisations such as NATO, the G8, the UN Security Council or the Commonwealth.

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