Buckingham’s MP Greg Smith has signed up to a nationwide campaign which aims to save Britain's pubs, after fears many will go permanently out of business unless they can open by Easter.
The campaign, which is led by the Countryside Alliance, follows revelations in a recent survey of pub landlords that found a staggering six in 10 believing they will go out of business if lockdown restrictions are not sufficiently lifted until the summer.
If pubs are forced to remain closed into the summer months, the campaign urges the government to provide these struggling businesses with increased financial support to ensure their future survival.
The same survey found that 92 % of landlords want to scrap the rule that customers must order a substantial meal to be allowed to buy a drink when pubs reopen. Respondents indicated that this requirement had an overall adverse effect on customer footfall. Despite many pubs trying out different menu items, it was felt that their efforts had been in vain. The impact was underlined with 57% reporting that regulars stopped coming to their pubs when the rule was in place and 82% saw a reduction in overall footfall.
Landlords also revealed that the bulk had spent staggering sums- between £1,000-5,000- on installing features designed to comply with and aid COVID-19 safety guidance: including outdoor heaters, hand sanitising stations and personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff. Despite this though, pubs are still not permitted to serve takeaway alcoholic beverages.
The ‘#UnlockInn - Save the Great British Pub campaign’ which has rolled out on social media already has 750 patrons backing it, along with several MPs. The campaign enables the public to lobby their local MP with a letter asking them to allow pubs to start trading again.
As the vaccination rollout continues at rapid pace, the campaign has 5 asks, which it hopes the Prime Minister Boris Johnson will consider when outlining the hotly anticipated roadmap for leaving lockdown.
1. Allow pubs to serve alcohol with takeaways as soon as possible. This is currently not allowed and considered unfair.
2. Scrap the ‘substantial meal’ requirement, when pubs open again.
3. If pubs are forced to remain closed into the Summer months, please provide these struggling businesses with increased financial support. We cannot see them fall by the wayside.
4. Offer a practical road map for pubs and the hospitality industry at large to help them realistically prepare for when they can resume trading again.
5. Extend VAT at 5%, while ensuring rates are cut by 50 percent for the same length of time. This will help pubs get through the much-needed economic recovery.
Greg Smith MP said: “' We are so fortunate in the Buckingham constituency to have a number of pubs which mean so much to the communities that depend on them. We cannot see them close permanently nor further burdened by 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.”
Other MPs who have signed up to the #UnlockInn campaign include Andrew Rosindell (Romford), Andrew Griffith (Arundel and South Downs), Heather Wheeler (South Derbyshire), Sir Robert Syms (Poole) and Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley).
You can support the #UnlockInn - Save the Great British Pub by clicking this link: Countryside Alliance - Countryside Alliance work relating to rural life and the countryside (countryside-alliance.org)