The restrictions placed on the community pub by the last Labour Government has seen closure after closure, with the heart of many communities left empty or converted to other purposes as the pub industry shrank.
Camra, the campaign for real ale have been making great strides to get local pubs to widen the range of drinks that they offer, and some local pubs are now offering ten or so guest ales, but the restrictions on live entertainment and the cost of a pint were still killing pubs.
Last month, Liberal Democrats in Government repealed Labour’s overbearing licensing of live entertainment in public houses, or indeed in any small venue, giving a major boost not only to the local pub which can now once again offer traditional live entertainment to draw in the punters, but also to the entertainment industry. Musicians, comedians and other entertainment professionals are now able to work again thanks to the removal of unnecessary red tape and costly licensing.
Yesterday in Parliament another blow was struck for the future security of our local pubs as Labour’s beer duty escalator was roundly condemned by the house. The Beer Duty Escalator has meant that fewer and fewer people are drinking in pubs as the beer has become more and more expensive. Dropping Labour’s Beer Duty Escalator will be another massive step towards saving the traditional British pub.
The Lib Dems have also given local communities the power to take over the ownership of local pubs as community co-operative businesses in the event that the current owners wish to close them. This lesser known piece of legislation introduced under the localism act could be the real saving of many of our traditional pubs, as it will take power out of the hands of breweries and pubcos and put it into the hands of the people.