Protection of Community Pubs September 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding protection of community pubs.

Pubs play a vital role in communities across Britain as well as contributing £22 billion to UK GDP and supporting almost 900,000 jobs. It is worrying that 29 pubs are closing each week in the UK and many pubs are being demolished or converted into other shops or facilities. Therefore, I appreciate the work of campaign groups, such as CAMRA, which try to protect well-run pubs.

I believe that local communities should be given a greater say over the composition of their areas. That is why I have been so concerned that new planning rules will mean a number of types of business will no longer have to apply for permission to convert a building for a new business or residential use. I fear this will make it harder for councils and communities to have their say over local development.

In January 2015 I supported introducing a new Clause 16 to the Government’s Infrastructure Bill which would have ensured that pubs require planning permission before they could change their use or be demolished. I am disappointed the Government defeated this motion as I feel it would have been a big step to keeping our local pubs open.

The strength of support for the pubs amendment at Report Stage shows that there is a real desire in communities to regain decision making power over local developments. That is why a Labour Government would allow local authorities to determine permitted development rules and use class changes locally, giving communities the power to shape their own areas and protect important local businesses such as pubs.

Additionally, I supported amendments of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill which has introduced a Statutory Code and Independent Adjudicator and a Market Rent Only Options. Those two amendments ensure that licensees are treated fairly and crack down on cases of inflated and that licensees tied to the large pub companies can buy their beer on the open market. This helped to stop the unfair and unbalanced relationship that can exist between large pub company (pubcos) and their tenants and licensees.

I hope the Government carefully considers and responds to the points raised on this important issue. Thank you once again writing to me and for sharing your views.