Tag Archives: pubs

I went to the pub…light the blue touchpaper and stand well back

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I figured that last weekend would be a bit crowded in pubs, so I reserved time in my (not-so)busy diary to visit the pub yesterday. Monday is the new Saturday.

All went well. The pub I visited seem to have lots of measures in place, and well-trained staff.

I enjoyed an excellent couple of pints of a local brew (Loddon Brewery’s Citra-Quad, since you ask). I had a meal which was obviously well-familiar with the inside of a microwave but still, as they used to say, “filled a hole”.

So far, so uncontroversial.

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18 May 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems launch calls for more mental health support for health and care staff
  • Lib Dems lead cross party push to keep pubs in business
  • People deserve an upfront answer from Powys MPs
  • Govt must increase testing capacity to maintain credibility

Lib Dems launch calls for more mental health support for health and care staff

The Liberal Democrats are today calling on the Government to ramp up mental health support for health and care staff to ensure “world-class” support for those tackling the virus head on.

Highlighting the “deep scar” coronavirus will leave on health and care staff, the party have put forward a package of mental health measures designed for rapid roll-out across the NHS and care sectors, including:

  • 24/7 access to mental health support for health and social care workers, through a dedicated helpline
  • Guarantees that health and care staff will no longer be penalised for time off due to mental or physical ill health by scrapping the Bradford scoring system and other HR practices that can create a culture of presenteeism
  • Introduce an ‘occupational health passport’ so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas if or when they change jobs
  • Additional training to ensure there are mental health first-aiders in every health and care workforce
  • Steps to standardise the quality and service offer to ensure that every health and social care worker can access the same, high standard of mental care support regardless of the region in which they are based
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My lockdown pub crawl (of sorts) in solidarity with landlords

If you ask lots of people what social activity they’re missing most during the lockdown, you’ll hear a pretty resounding answer: “going to the pub”. I’d give exactly the same answer (the gym is second on the list, natch).

Having a few pints in one of Cheltenham’s many welcoming inns is one of my favourite things to do. Whether it’s admiring the many pineapples decorating The Swan, sitting in the garden of The Railway or watching football in the Frog and Fiddle, it wouldn’t usually be long between visits for me – until …

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Pitching my idea: Reduce the legal drinking age

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Having finally finished my undergraduate dissertation, I suddenly find myself with a lot of time on my hands, while also being limited for what I’m able to do with that time as a result of the unprecedented circumstances we all currently find ourselves in. We’re also in the middle of our party’s period of reflection, after a disappointing General Election result and before the election of a new leader to take us into a new chapter with new USPs. In other words, there is surely no better time than now to pitch a policy idea that can be included with many others in our new platform.

Like many, I’ve always appreciated the ability of members to formulate policy. In other words, I genuinely enjoy sitting in a conference hall in various seaside towns and voting on policies written by members who have far greater expertise on the issue at hand than I presumably ever will. I don’t claim to have any expertise on public health, other than my own lived experience and observations drawn from the existing research. However, going forward, we’re a party desperately in need of new, unique ideas and if my first Lib Dem voice entry at least gets people to consider the issue then that’ll be a success in my book.

So, my idea is simple: bring legal age limits on alcohol in line with those in Germany, which are as follows;

At Age 14 minors may consume fermented products such as beer and wine, provided they are in the presence of a legal guardian. At Age 16 minors are allowed to purchase and consume the same fermented products, without custodial supervision. At Age 18, Germans have reached adulthood and are able to purchase and consume any alcoholic product.

We’re a country that enjoys alcohol and for the most part, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Our unique pub culture is a celebrated part of our national identity, with pubs being a focal point for many of our local communities and it is something that on a human level, I and many of my friends and family enjoy. I have no intention of giving that up, albeit in moderation, because it is both fun and sociable. I’m not alone in that, with a recent survey revealing that over half of UK adults choose to spend their free time in pubs.

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Pubs need support now and inclusion for their future

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Having relaunched a pub in Brighton during the election, watching it grow into a successful community pub then suddenly falling complete silent has been an absolute roller-coaster of emotions. Not seeing your regulars every day is a weird feeling and not knowing when those doors will open again leaves me anxious for the future of the industry.

I’m a lucky one though, my parent pub company have been incredibly supportive and with their help and the coronavirus retention scheme, I’ve been able to continue paying 100% of my staffs’ wages. But for lots of publicans this is not the case.

Some of the big Pub Co’s are still collecting extortionate rents from their tenants, even though there has been zero footfall through the doors. Pubs with higher rateable values are exempt from grants. Bank loans are little to none in the hospitality sector and seasonal staff will be significantly worse off with the summer season limited. All these issues need addressing urgently, if we want pubs to be there able and ready for when we can enjoy that much anticipated pint with our friends again.

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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.

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Mulholland hails victory for tenant landlords after Government u-turn

The Casked CrusaderRemember back in 2014, Greg Mulholland and others secured a Government defeat to give tenant landlords the right to request a fair rent and end the beer tie?

Unsurprisingly, the Government did what it could to put as many obstacles in the way of landlords seeking that fair rent as it could. Sure, they could have it, as long as the pubco could increase the rent at the end of the year. They’ve had to u-turn on that now.

Pub champion Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland (known in some quarters as the Casked Crusader) has long fought for the Market Rent Only (MRO) option, said that the u-turn was a major victory against a Government which has consistently refused to support landlords to get a fair deal.

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Greg Mulholland: “We beat the British establishment”

The Casked CrusaderWe will never miss an opportunity to show off this amazing photograph from the Sun showing Greg Mulholland as the Casked Crusader, the guy who did more than anyone else in the last Parliament to help publicans by campaigning for them to have more power against exploitative measures by large pubcos.

There is an argument that anyone who likes going to the pub in Leeds North West needs to vote for Greg. In fact, there’s an argument that anyone who likes going to the pub should vote Liberal Democrat given the valiant work by Jo Swinson and Vince Cable in the face of strong Tory opposition.

Greg has written for the Publicans’ Morning Advertiser about the things he and the Liberal Democrats have been able to achieve and the mountains they had to climb to do it.

The Parliament started well, but then reform plans hit troubled Tory waters with a u-turn on plans to regulate the industry.

Diligent research by Greg and his colleagues got the issue back on the political agenda and a long campaign finally led to that amazing victory last November.  Greg says:

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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.

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Lib Dems need to take every opportunity to get our message out there

Megaphone, some rights reserved by garrykinghtI’ve made no secret of my view that a change in leadership is likely to do little to revive Liberal Democrat fortunes at the polls given the rather more structural reasons for the decline in support for the party.

But I also recognise that to continue doing and saying the same things over and over again and expecting a different result is not only the definition of insanity but is unlikely to lead to an electoral revival:

We should not simply keep calm and carry on, but nor should we lose our heads either. The long-term success of the party is best served by

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Casked Crusader battles zombie enterprises over “Great British Pubco Scam”

The Casked CrusaderBeer. Don’t you love it? I do.

In the last 40 years, the brewing and pub industry has failed to be a drinker’s best friend. Small brewers built near local monopolies and went national. Prices went up, landlords got poorer, and the beer fouler. A quarter of a century ago, the Beer Orders were launched to breathe new life into our pubs. But the orders led to the loathed zombie pubcos, which have eaten away at the viability and traditions of our locals.

Enter Greg Mulholland, the Lib Dems pub and beer champion – also dubbed the Casked Crusader by the Sun. He took to the floor of the House of Commons on Monday night to continue the his crusade against the pubcos.

Not taking the right action now would be a disaster not only for many pubco publicans and the communities that stand to lose their local pubs, but for the recovering UK economy.

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The Sun’s new superhero: Greg Mulholland, the Casked Crusader

The Casked Crusader

 

Liberal Democrats have long known about Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland’s efforts to protect the Great British Pub. Now, the Sun has caught on to his work and interests and, today, have dubbed him The Casked Crusader, illustrated in this fetching portrait. In this article, entitled Scandaleous, they quote him as saying:

The pubco model is a scam. No one has got to grips with it — it’s a corporate scandal as big as Libor or Enron but no one’s even probing it.

What I’m saying is, enough is

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Independent View: two cheers for Vince

Landlords and punters across the country should be raising a glass to Vince Cable today after he announced new rules for pub companies (or pubcos) which will help local publicans in these difficult economic times.

His plans include the introduction of an independent adjudicator and a new statutory code for the industry – something I argued for in this IPPR report: Tied Down.

Pubs are an important part of the community – they’re a meeting place for family and friends and host meetings of local clubs and associations, promoting local charities and events. But they’ve faced serious demise with 16 pubs …

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Opinion: The escalator that’s pricing beer into insensibility

Today, upward of a thousand enthusiasts are descending on Westminster to demand protection for one of the nation’s great heritage assets. Beer.

The Labour government of old was unduly fond of price and tax escalators, which generally take the form of retail price index plus a bit more. I have always regarded this as a rather odd fiscal mechanism because it simply creates a circularity that feeds itself. Costs go up, the RPI duly rises, and costs go up again as a result.

It beats me why the coalition has decided to maintain this blunt policy. Fiscal escalators

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How to damage rural communities in several easy stages…

Yesterday, I waxed unlyrical about the effects of government on rural life, and today, I want to look at some of those effects…

The Department for Education, under Michael Gove, has changed the funding arrangements for schools, with unfortunate side effects for rural schools. This means that schools such as the one I visited recently in Norfolk will lose grant funding, and be forced to lay off staff as a result. Given that rural counties already receive less grant per pupil than …

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Opinion: We need to tackle ‘crony capitalism’ on our watch

The Liberal Democrats’ vision of a John Lewis economy, and an end to ‘crony capitalism’, articulated by Nick Clegg, is welcome. So how does Government need to change?

The answer, it seems, lies in the habitual practices of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and its notorious revolving door to pet trade interest groups. So when the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the in-house lobbyists of the pubcos that have closed countless community pubs, come calling, the condemnation of the outside world seems not to matter.

BIS ducked the solution supported by the cross-party BIS …

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Ed Davey writes… Glass half full – or half empty?

My announcement last week on pubs hasn’t won me or the Government three cheers from the likes of CAMRA or Fair Pint. Yet I believe it is a notable success for tenants and lessees across the country – and time will prove it so.

For the pubcos have till Christmas to make their Codes of Practice legally binding – so tenants and lessees can enforce their rights – and they know that if they don’t, Parliament would be very happy to make it legally binding for them.

Coupled with the other reforms we negotiated from the pubcos and brewers, real change has …

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Greg Mulholland writes… Here is Lib Dem ministers’ chance to save the pub

There has been much talk about the demise of the great British pub. People up and down the country are now sadly used to seeing boarded up pubs, many with rather optimistic to let boards outside.

There are many reasons given for the closure of pubs, but a closer look at the names on the To Let boards, often written in small writing, reveals the most fundamental. The names Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns, the two largest pub-owning companies in the land, with around 12,000 pubs between them, are finding it harder and harder to find people to take their …

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Bob’s ‘Campaign to Save the Great British Pub’ backed by 200+ MPs

As The Scotsman reports:

MORE than 200 MPs yesterday called on the UK government to back a five-point plan to save “great British pubs”. In his early day motion, Lib Dem MP Bob Russell said five pubs were closing down in the UK every day, with beer sales in pubs at their lowest for nearly 40 years.

Here’s the text of Bob’s EDM in full:

EDM 10 – CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE GREAT BRITISH PUB
03.12.2008

Russell, Bob

That this House is alarmed that five public houses are closing down every day, with beer sales in pubs at their lowest level for nearly 40 years; is

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