At their annual Spring Conference in York this week, the Liberal Democrats voted through new policy on protecting Britain’s local pubs.
This follows a fact-finding visit to Kingston last year by Lib Dem business minister Jo Swinson who was introduced to local publicans by North Kingston Parliamentary Campaigner Robin Meltzer at the Willoughby pub in Willoughby Road.
Under the new Liberal Democrat policy, no change of use or permission to demolish a pub could be granted until the pub had been properly advertised at a fair market price for at least six months.
The Liberal Democrats also voted to give existing tenants the right to buy the freehold for their pub at a fair market price if the owner puts it up for sale. Communities would also have the right to buy local pubs to save them from closure.
Perhaps most significantly, the Lib Dems have now formally backed the campaign to reform the PubCos (pub companies) including enshrining in law the principle that tied in licensees must be no worse off than independent publicans.
Robin said: “I am delighted that the Liberal Democrats are the only party to have adopted a policy to give a fair deal to pubco licensees through a market rent only option, which backs the Campaign For Real Ale’s Fair Deal for Your Local campaign. The unregulated leased pubco model has been a disaster for the valued national institution and community facility that is the pub and one that Liberal Democrats in Government can now deal with.
“Introducing this in the forthcoming statutory code of practice for the pubcos would represent a huge positive move in terms of stopping exploitation and saving many valued pubs.
“I am also delighted that the Lib Dems have adopted key policies to give pubs more protection in planning law. Despite the powers given to communities to register assets of community value, pubs can still be sold and closed, including being turned into supermarkets and betting shops, without even needing planning permission. That is a ridiculous situation.
“The Liberal Democrats are the party on the side of responsibly run neighbourhood pubs.”