Pub protection: The Casked Crusader strikes again

Ten days ago, pubs in England unexpectedly won the right to planning protection, as the Government conceded the closing of a loophole that has allowed many good pubs to be converted into convenience stores without needing planning permission.

The news was released by Planning Minister Gavin Barwell to Lib Dem Pub Champion Greg Mulholland, whose record in championing pubs has led him to be hailed as ‘The Casked Crusader’ by none other than the Sun newspaper, and loathed by lobbyists for the under-fire pubcos the BBPA.  Most notably he has led the campaign for a statutory Pubs Code and Adjudicator for tied pub tenants, delivered by Vince Cable and Jo Swinson in Government and defeating the Coalition Government in the process to secure ‘Mulholland’s Law’.
After falling victim to an orchestrated Labour coup to oust him as Chair of the All-Party Save The Pub Group, Greg has continued to press for relief from business rate increases (alongside PPCs Kelly-Marie Blundell and Daisy Cooper), for a Pubs Code in Scotland where tied tenants have no such protection, and for planning reform.  He also continues to fight for better working of the Pubs Code and a change of Adjudicator after the current Government appointed someone accused of inaction and serious conflicts of interest.

Success in such campaigns tends to have many authors, and so it seems to have proved in this case.  Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) activist James Watson and formerly active Lib Dem Gareth Epps worked to set out what damage was being done by the loophole.  They helped persuade then-Lib Dem Minister Stephen Williams to secure additional protection in 2015 – which has helped save a number of pubs.  However, a number of companies continue to seek changes – an issue facing criticism from all parties, even managing to unite Nick Clegg and UKIP.

CAMRA has long been running a campaign on planning protection, although their efforts to work with the Co-Op has been derided by Greg who has now tabled an EDM on the subject.  It seemed CAMRA knew nothing of the Government’s concession, as hours before it was announced they were emailing their members asking them to lobby their MP for the change.

There is still work to be done to protect these community assets across the UK.  Protection now exists for pubs in planning law in England and Scotland – but not Wales and Northern Ireland.  Calls for the replacement of the Pubs Code Adjudicator are not going away; in Scotland they don’t even have an Adjudicator or Code.  One thing is certain: Lib Dems will continue to be at the heart of the battles, and then most likely there to talk about them in the pubs afterwards.

* Jo Barleycorn is a pseudonym for someone who is a keen observer of beer and pubs and who is known to the LDV team

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • David Evershed 2nd Apr '17 - 12:43pm

    When Greg Mulholland came to speak at our local party we retired afterwards to the local pub where Greg drank what he preaches (in moderation of course).

  • Thanks for the update, Gareth

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