Pubs are a ‘dangerous place to be’ says Hugh Pennington
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The campaign led by the Countryside Alliance follows revelations in the Sunday Express that six in 10 rural pub landlords believe they will go out of business if lockdown restrictions are not sufficiently lifted until the summer. The #UnlockInn – Save the Great British Pub campaign is set to be rolled out on social media over the weekend but already has more than 300 patrons backing it along with MPs. Voters will be asked to lobby their MPs with a letter asking them to allow pubs to start trading again.
The campaign has five demands starting with allowing pubs to serve alcohol with takeaways as soon as possible. Currently, pubs can sell takeaway food but are unable to sell alcohol even though supermarkets can.
When pubs are allowed to open they want the “substantial meal” requirement to be scrapped allowing people to just go for a pint.
If pubs are forced to remain closed into the summer months, they demand that the government provides these struggling businesses with increased financial support.
They also want a practical road map for pubs and the hospitality industry at large to help them realistically prepare for when they can resume trading again.
Finally, they are asking Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend VAT at 5 percent while ensuring rates are cut by 50 percent for the same length of time.
Paul Edwards, who runs the Red Lion in Caston, Norfolk, said: “As a landlord who is serving takeaway meals, being able to sell alcohol too would be a big help for my business. However, when we can open fully, we want to be able to get customers back through the door and the substantial meal requirement acts as a big barrier to our potential footfall.”
Buckingham Tory MP Greg Smith, who is backing the campaign, said: “We cannot see them close permanently nor further burdened by unnecessary rules like the substantial meal requirement.”
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell added: “Pubs are at the heart of communities in towns like Romford as well as villages and hamlets across our country. While we must be cautious in our approach, it is clear they need to be trading again and allowed to at least sell takeaway alcoholic beverages and without unnecessary rules like the substantial meal requirement.”
A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance added: “Among the societal benefits, the pub trade is a very important employer in many fragile, local economies. These 5 asks are essential if we are to see these fine institutions standing for future generations to enjoy.”
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