‘We need to remain active and not give up on pubs facing issues’

Publican Steve Lant warned people need to use their locals more
Publican Steve Lant warned people need to use their locals more

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Calls have been made for Portsmouth City Council to not fall silent on issues involving pubs following a vote paving the way for reform.

The government is to give locals owned by big companies the opportunity in future to buy beer on the open market after the proposal received cross-party support in the House of Commons.

And Portsmouth councillors now feel it is the right time for the authority to step up its protection of pubs and not let the situation rest.

Cllr Darren Sanders of the Lib Dems thinks more should be done to improve links with pubs and shops on high streets.

He said a good example of both parties working together was through the Love Baffins Christmas Market, which is happening this Saturday.

The Baffins Inn is hosting live music for the event, backed by shopkeepers and local churches.

Cllr Sanders reiterated that additional pubs in the city should get protection under planning laws to stop them being redeveloped.

The Good Companion, in Eastern Road, Portsmouth, enjoys protection as it is the only pub in that area and it is a community hub.

‘I want to see some action, I don’t want this situation to fall silent,’ he said.

‘I’m interested to see how the administration will respond to the vote that was taken.

‘I want to see some positive ideas and see parties working together to help pubs in the city.

‘It doesn’t necessarily have to cost money.

‘The idea put forward by Ukip of the council running pubs is practically dead, but I’m sure there must be more we can do in terms of protection in planning terms.’

Cllr Sanders added that pubs would benefit if they could set their own business rates to ensure they don’t go into the ground.

The News has launched a campaign urging the government to make changes to the way business rates are calculated and it’s hoped an announcement will be made during the Autumn Statement on December 3.

It is unknown whether further pub reforms will be announced as part of the economic forecast, which is given by chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne.

The Campaign For Real Ale told The News it will be continuing to put pressure on the government to allow pubs to buy their own beer at the earliest opportunity.

Publican Steve Lant, who runs pubs across the city, has already warned residents must commit to using their locals more if they want to see them be saved.

More help for pubs

BEER campaigners have stepped up the fight to ensure pubs and non-profit members clubs get a fairer deal.

The British Beer and Pub Association has sent a letter signed by 12 similar groups to chancellor George Osborne, pictured, calling on him to make a number of key changes through his Autumn Statement.

They’re calling for small businesses including pubs to get a reduction in their business rates through to 2017 and ensure more locals come under the scheme.

Calls are also being made for pubs that don’t qualify to be given extra support - and ones of particular community value should be able to obtain ‘discretionary rate relief’.

Organisations are also requesting that the government works with councils to improve the application of business reliefs.

Outlining the reasons in their letter for putting forward the recommendations, beer groups said: ‘We believe these measures would generate additional tax revenues through increased sales, investment and jobs and give a boost to communities and high streets throughout the country – and revive business confidence in the rates system’.

They added that pub and club business rates were ‘too high’ and there is a ‘lack of understanding’ about how the system works, how bills are calculated and why it takes so long for appeals to be held’.

Meanwhile, the Campaign for Real Ale’s chief executive, Tim Page, has praised the news that pubs tied to large firms will be able to buy their own beer.

He said it will help keep pubs open and ensure the cost of a pint remains affordable.