Statutory code urged for landlords


bitters and infusions on bar...

The Government will today come under pressure to speed up moves aimed at protecting pub landlords to make sure they are not exploited by large companies.

Ministers held a consultation last year on a statutory code, but held off putting it in place after deciding to consider the huge number of responses it received.

Labour will use an Opposition Day debate to call for legislation to be included in the Queen's Speech later this year to introduce a statutory code.

Shadow pubs minister Toby Perkins said: "A broad coalition including Camra, business organisations and trade unions are backing a new statutory code with teeth. Labour is demanding that ministers stop dragging their feet at a time when 26 pubs are closing every week.

"A year ago, in response to pressure from campaigners and Labour, ministers said they'd take action but 12 months later they've failed to do so.

"That's why we need to see legislation brought forward this year."

The Local Government Association called for competition bodies to ban the unfair use of "restrictive covenants" by pub chains.

Almost 600 pubs owned by large pub companies were permanently lost in five years through being sold with restrictive covenants, said the LGA.

Mike Jones, who chairs the LGA's environment and housing board, said: "We want to see the Government tackling this issue head on, rather than brushing it under the carpet.

"Hundreds of pubs are being lost forever every year and this is having a devastating effect on communities.

"It is utterly unfair that pubs, many of which have been at the heart of communities for generations, should be shut because of these covenants, which only benefit the big breweries and pub chains."

Mike Benner, chief executive of Camra (the Campaign for Real Ale), said: "Pubs are closing as a result of big pub companies squeezing the profits of publicans with costly rents and high beer prices.

"The Government has recognised that costly rents combined with high beer prices are damaging some pubs.

"We are backing the Government's plans to act, but words and proposals need to be translated into urgent action via the introduction of a statutory code, Pubs Watchdog, a guest beer right and a market rent only option for licensees tied to the large pub companies."

Red Lion pub transformed to £25m home

Red Lion pub transformed to £25m home