THE deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council has admitted it has limited powers in protecting pubs using planning laws given that there are so many still around.
Councillor Luke Stubbs, who is also cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic redevelopment, said there would only be justification in taking action if there was no alternative boozer nearby to one at risk of redevelopment, which in a lot of cases in Portsmouth ‘isn’t true’.
He said: ‘Despite all the closures there have been Portsmouth still has more pubs than most comparable urban areas. That makes it difficult to use planning to protect what’s left because the justification for doing so has to be that there is no alternative pub nearby and in a majority of the city that isn’t true.
‘There are some exceptions though and this is something I will be looking at. The situation is akin to post offices. They will only survive if people use them and they pay their way.
‘You can’t use planning rules to stop an uneconomic business from closing.’
But he praised The News’ Love Your Local campaign and said people in the city should do all they can to promote local, independent pubs to stop them from folding.
Cllr Stubbs also believes the smoking ban has had the most damaging effect on the pub trade and the government should relax the ban to allow areas inside where punters can have a cigarette.
‘The government should at least allow smoking areas and let people make their own health and lifestyle choices without constant interference from above,’ he said.