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.

Then there is Mr Hopkins’ opposition to industry reform. While MPs around him support the reform in the form of the Market Rent Only amendment tabled this week by over 30 MPs from all parties, he parrots the line of industry lobbyists opposing it.  While it is obvious that Mr Hopkins has met pubco lobbyists the BBPA – after all it is their hackneyed cliché he is spouting word for word – it’s difficult to see how he can form a balanced view on this issue as he is yet to meet any one of the ten organisations truly representing tenants and pressing for material and meaningful reform.

Yes – the Market Rent Only (MRO) option will undermine the big pub companies’ dominance over their tied tenants. Yes – MRO will weaken pubcos’ stranglehold on over 20,000 UK pubs and redistribute the pubs profit fairly. MRO will not break the pubcos. It is a soft delivery remedy over a period of many years offering tenants a bargain chip and a chance to run their pub under either fair tied terms or to release the selves from the shackles of abuse.

The local hustings will no doubt be interesting.

The Keighley News reports the selection:

Mr Epps said: “Keighley, Ilkley, the Worth Valley and surrounding communities have gained a lot from Liberal Democrats being in Government.

“In particular, the tax break for the lowest earners that David Cameron said we couldn’t afford, has been delivered. Local people also benefit from the pupil premium, much-needed extra funding for the NHS and the steps to repair our economy for the long term.”

His main policy interests include transport, international affairs and the environment.

That has to be the most on-message thing Gareth has said in years! No doubt he will also be reminding local voters how hard he and nearby Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland worked to defeat the government over pubs legislation with an amendment that gave more power to the tenant. This could be an interesting contest. We have our Google Alert set up…

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  • The prospect of a nearby MP Epps is one that fills me with Glee. While I don’t agree with Gareth’s policy positions on EVERYTHING, he’s a great guy and would certainly do a beret job than Hopkins of representing the seat.

  • stuart moran 7th Feb '15 - 3:42pm

    Good choice Keighley…good luck sir

  • @Jennie: Epps in a beret is a better clothing choice than the other rumour. 😛

  • A Social Liberal 7th Feb '15 - 8:41pm

    Well done Gareth, if you have time get in touch and I’ll teach all about the beers around Skipton and Keighley.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 7th Feb '15 - 8:55pm

    This is just crying out for some photoshopping of people in various hats. Where’s Stace when you need her.

  • Joshua Dixon 8th Feb '15 - 12:36am

    That is a hustings I would definitely love to see!

  • Oh man. Hat typo. Mind, I actually thing a beret would suit him.

  • @Jennie Yo win typo of the week 🙂

  • David Warren 8th Feb '15 - 6:31pm

    Gareth was the only parliamentary candidate to take a real genuine interest in the closure of my old workplace the Royal Mail sorting office prior to the last General Election.

    That was our first meeting.

    He went on to finish second in Reading East, the best Lib Dem performance there in my memory.

    Prior to that he had fought and won a council seat in a safe Labour area.

    When I started working as a lone Lib Dem campaigner in my ward he took the time to come over and support in my activities.

    That meant a lot because at the time I was feeling pretty isolated.

    He is a tireless campaigner but sadly not as appreciated in this town as he should be.

    Reading’s loss is Keighley’s gain.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 9th Feb '15 - 3:38pm

    Mark, was that Yo a deliberate typo?

  • Yo yo yo to you as well, Count Packula 😉

  • SIMON BANKS 10th Feb '15 - 5:34pm

    Good luck Gareth. A pint of Sam Smith’s if you win!

    This beret job: is it by any chance related to the typo that once nearly made its way on to one of my Focuses: “The Police have a hand job?”

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