14:55 Monday 02 December 2013

Beer campaigners get ready to fight pub sell off

Written byLAURA HAMMOND

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PUB campaigners are preparing to mount a campaign against plans by beer giant Marston’s to sell off more than 200 of its pubs in the UK.

The company announced last week that it would be selling 202 sites in a £90 million disposal deal with New River Retail, in a move which it said would allow it to reinvest in pub restaurant ventures.

But the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has vowed to fight the proposals, which it fears will see the sites transformed into retail units, which New River specialises in.

He added: “It’s a farce that 200 viable pubs could be closed down. Its the lack of protection that pubs have got in this day and age, when they sell vital parts of the community.

“We are losing 26 a week, and something like this can really contribute to that situation.”

Marston’s claimed the move would ‘improve the quality of the estate’. by shedding smaller units, which are less profitable.

Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “This disposal is consistent with our strategy and improves the quality of our estate.

“It will also assist with financing the accelerating rollout of our new-build pub restaurants, which are achieving good returns.”

Marston’s has not yet revealed the location of the pubs which are to go. Mr Antona told that Mail that made it difficult to launch an opposition.

He added: “We have got ammunition in our locker if we can find out which pubs these are. We can get them listed as assets of community value.”

Marston’s has said it will manage the pubs for several years after they have been sold.

The chief executive of CAMRA nationally said it ‘made no sense’ for pubs to be turned in retail units, adding: “Our message to New River Retail is that they should be focused on reviving existing retail spaces rather than seeking to destroy valued community pubs serving local communities and we call on them to take every step to sell pubs as going concerns.”

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