I do enjoy popping out for a pint at my local pub. It’s nice to be able to put work or the chores to one side for a while and have a beer.
But for many of us, it is becoming increasing difficult to find a local because of the number of pub closures.
In just one part of Fareham we have seen the closure of the Redlands and the Admiral Cunningham in recent years. This is a pattern that is repeated across our area.
For some pub chains, it seems that property development is more lucrative than selling beer and pub food. Indeed, the Redlands is testament to that.
When a pub is under threat, we are seeing local people think seriously about taking it over and running it themselves rather than lose a valuable local asset. Indeed, the Localism Bill that is going through Parliament at the moment introduces a ‘community right to buy’ scheme which would give local residents the right to take over a pub threatened with closure.
However, in the past, some companies have sought to block a pub reopening on their site by preventing any future purchaser using it for that purpose.
This is called a restrictive covenant.
Between 2004 and 2009, it is thought that nearly 600 pubs were lost permanently as a consequence of this.
To stop these restrictive covenants being used, the government is looking at banning their use. This would be a major boost to local communities.
To help get new pubs and other small businesses off the ground, we have also introduced a more generous small business rate relief scheme, which will mean that more than 330,000 firms will pay no rates at all. This scheme will last until October next year.
We can’t bring closed pubs back to life but we can give those under the threat of closure a lifeline by giving local people the chance to buy them.
We should all be saying cheers to that!