Otis Mack
Otis Mack campaign leader


11.3.11 ACTION has been urged by Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood to prevent more traditional British pubs being "managed into oblivion" by large firms.The Liberal Democrat yesterday called for steps to be taken at Westminster to loosen the grip of pub companies on leased premises.
Mr Horwood told fellow MPs scores of pubs were closing every week and something had to be done to help.
He said at least eight – including the Greyhound, the Cat and Fiddle, the Bass House and the Duke of York – had closed in Cheltenham alone since 2007.Whole communities like Whaddon were now without any local pub at all, MPs heard.
While there were many reasons for the decline, one of the main ones was "the profoundly unequal relationship between tenant and lessee landlords and the big new pub companies", Mr Horwood said.
A catalogue of demands and "terrifying" list of responsibilities were imposed on publicans, many of whom were earning less than £15,000 a year.
Rent agreements linked to estimated earnings and not a pub's size, along with premiums of 40 per cent or more above the market value on beer, meant many landlords could not make ends meet despite significant turnovers.
Proposing his ten minute rule bill, Tied Public Houses, Mr Horwood said it was time the Government imposed a statutory agreement between companies and tenant landlords.
Mr Horwood said the British pub was a "unique institution", with many playing a "very special and much-loved role" in community life and often diversifying into village shops and post offices.
However, an investigation carried out by the Business and Enterprise Select Committee in 2008 had found 50 per cent of lessees were earning less than £15,000 a year, even when their pubs were turning over £500,000 a year, he said.

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