Task force bids to halt pubs' decline

A task group is to lobby central government in a bid to stem the decline of the traditional pub.The South Norfolk Council task group has suggested a letter should be sent to the All Parliamentary Beer Group whose chairman is Selby MP John Grogan and that South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon should be copied in.

A task group is to lobby central government in a bid to stem the decline of the traditional pub.

The South Norfolk Council task group has suggested a letter should be sent to the All Parliamentary Beer Group whose chairman is Selby MP John Grogan and that South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon should be copied in.

The group also recommended that the letter should be sent to all Norfolk councils to enable them to sign it if they feel appropriate.

The letter would call for the relaxation of beer ties and would lobby central government about business rates.


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The task group is also considering lobbying central government to reduce or freeze beer duty and to impose a minimum price per unit of alcohol.

The task group was set up earlier this year to examine the factors leading to the success or demise of rural pubs and to consider what advice or assistance the authority could offer.

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A key survey sent to more than 100 landlords saw them blame high rents and supermarket sales of cheap alcohol for damaging their business. Taxes on alcohol, business rates and the credit crunch were all listed as being key factors behind their struggles.

A conference was organised in September which saw landlords from across the district discuss ways of helping their businesses.

The task group's final report was discussed at a meeting of the council's scrutiny committee yesterday which backed the sending of the letter.

Other suggestions for helping publicans include exploring the council's rate relief policy, promotion/advertising, funding and grant schemes, and initiatives such as the Pub is the Hub, an organisation set up in 2001 by the Prince of Wales, which encourages breweries, pub owners, licensees and local communities to work together to help retain and enhance rural pubs. A Pub of the Year award is also being considered.

A report to the scrutiny committee said some pubs were already successfully undertaking promotional ideas.

These included the provision of free or very cheap soft drinks as an incentive for drivers, the promotion of local food and drink, bike hire, B&B accommodation and hosting music or beer festivals.

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