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Calls for new laws to regulate pub chains

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 04, 2013

Comments (7)

THE man hoping to become Burton's next MP has called for tough new laws to regulate pub companies.

Labour's Jon Wheale said it was vital the Government introduced a statutory code of conduct to control pub chains, such as Burton-based Punch Taverns and Spirit.

Mr Wheale said: "It's not enough just to talk about the beer and pub industry. What's needed is real action to protect jobs and the future of the industry."

Parliament last year voted for a review of the existing system of self-regulation, but critics say the Government has not acted on this.

A similar debate will be held in the House of Commons next week during which Labour will urge the Government to bring in new laws this year.

Mr Wheale said: "I am supporting MPs who are voting in Parliament for the motion which demands the Government take action and put in place a statutory code by the end of 2013 at the latest."

Critics say pub chains treat landlords unfairly and use aggressive business practices. The Labour Party's motion to be debated next week calls for an independent body to resolve disputes between pub companies and landlords.

It also calls for new rights for publicans to opt out of so-called 'beer ties' with exclusive drinks suppliers.

Mr Wheale claimed lack of action to control pub chains had forced many landlords out of business.

"The number of pub closures a week has risen to 18 and more than 200 have been converted into convenience stores in the last two years alone. Evidence of this can be seen across Burton," he said.

But Burton's current Conservative MP Andrew Griffiths, chairman of the parliamentary beer group, accused Labour of hypocrisy. He claimed the smoking ban and beer duty escalator introduced by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's administrations had 'crippled' pubs.

"Labour's pubs minister, Toby Perkins, has refused to commit to a statutory code in the next Labour manifesto," Mr Griffiths said. "Clearly Labour is playing politics with our pubs.

"It is still too early to decide whether the self-regulatory system is working or not."

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7 comments

  • Burton Mail  |  January 08 2013, 11:55PM

    Just how long is it going to take for the government to determine whether self-regulation works or not? How many pubs will close in the meantime? Indeed, in the meantime let's hope that somebody - anybody - other than Griffiths wins the next general election, if only to spare genuine drinkers the nauseating sight of him schmoozing with Roger Protz at the beer festival. Completely insincere and opportunist. And finally, for the umpteenth time, the smoking ban has not affected pubs - other than making the pavements outside them resemble some surreal nicotine-themed wallpaper. Four cans of Pedigree - less than £5 from your supermarket. One pint of Pedigree - about £3 from your local. Look no further.

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 07 2013, 8:11PM

    None of these groups have been able to stop pub closures so far but if that make's you confident of changing social changes in what consumers choose to spend their money on go for it!

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 06 2013, 10:41PM

    Well done my son, if pubs could buy their beer where they want and for the best price, it would be a good thing for the industry and pubs.

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 06 2013, 8:17PM

    As the chair of Burton Labour Party I am obviously really pleased to hear Labour has chosen to use the very first opportunity it has in 2013 in Parliament to raise the issue of protecting pubs and brewing - we all know how important these jobs are for Burton. I congratulate Labour's shadow minister for pubs Toby Perkins MP supported by Jon Wheale for doing this. But at the same time many friends in the town - both supporters and non-supporters of Labour, are really concerned about this issue. Pubs are closing at an alarming rate and this affects communities and Burton's future. That's why in 2013 I will be working with Jon Wheale and Burton Labour on protecting pubs and brewing jobs - it will be one of our top campaign priorities. What we need is Growth and we are just not seeing it. There was no mention of the beer tax escalator in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement and Burton's own MP remained completely silent. If he is unable to influence his own Party on such an important issue our town then questions need to be asked. And it saddens me and my friends when I read that our own MP is further wasting his time fantasying about being the next James Bond and being ridiculed for it. What we need is real change and real progress on the beer tax escalator. Not more and more words of no substance.

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 06 2013, 7:48PM

    In reply to Jay's comment there are other reasons and I am calling for real action to support pubs, jobs and the brewing industry because I want to see a bright future for people in Burton who rely on and benefit from the pub trade. The motion which I am supporting is as follows: That this House notes the motion passed by this House on 12th January 2012; recognises that a wide body of experts shares the view that only a statutory code of practice which includes a free-of-tie option with an open market rent review and an independent adjudicator will resolve the contractual problems between the pub companies and their lessees; and calls on the Government to lay before the house a timetable which will lead to that statutory code being enshrined in law as soon as is practicably possible and before the end of 2013 at the very latest.

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 05 2013, 11:00AM

    I think it's important to add that what I am calling for is supported by a broad coalition including the BIS Select Committee and groups in the pub trade, including CAMRA, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Independent Pub Confederation, Fair Pint and the Guild of Master Victuallers.

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 05 2013, 10:12AM

    Is Mr Wheale straight out of school? Yes the pubcos have some contribution to pubs closing but so so social changes in people wanting more for their money, staying in, buying cheaper drink from supermarkets, the smoking ban etc. If he thinks the pubcos are the only ones to direct this all at then he is a fool.

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