CAMRA hails pub reforms
The government's new 12 point Action Plan plan promises sweeping reforms on a wide variety of subjects. To support community pubs, Mr Healey has announced:
*Greater protection for pubs under threat of demolition
*A ban on the anti-competitive practice of imposing restrictive covenants on the sale of pubs.
*Greater flexibility for pubs to diversify by adding shops and other facilities without planning permission
*£1 million government funding for Pub is the Hub, the group led by Prince Charles to protect the community role of pubs
*£3 million to support community pub ownership
*Greater freedom for pubs to host live music without a specific licence
To reform the operation of the Beer Tie to ensure a fair deal for tenants and consumers, the government has announced:
*A one-year deadline to fully implement the recommendations of the recent Business, Innovations and Skills Parliamentary Select Committee report on Pub Companies -- before the government intervenes with legislation if necessary -- and deliver a beer right and a free of the tie option for tied tenants.
CAMRA chief executive Mike Benner said: "The proposals have the potential to totally transform the UK pubs market, leading to a free, fair and competitive market where consumers will benefit through greater choice, improved amenities and lower prices.
"We are now busy lobbying hard to encourage the other political parties to unveil their policies to support pubs before the general election. We also need to ensure that the government sticks to the proposals they've announced."
Mike Benner added that it was vital for beer drinkers to keep the pressure up by continuing to encourage election candidates from all parties to support the proposals in CAMRA's Beer Drinkers and Pubgoers Charter.
SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, was more cautious in its reponse to the Healey proposals. Chief executive Julian Grocock said he was delighted the minister was considering relaxing the beer tie to allow more local guest ales into pubs as "this will open up more routes to market for SIBA members.
"We are disappointed, however, that there is no mention of addressing the imbalance between beer prices in the on and off trades. In most pubs -- and certainly where local, craft ales are sold -- drinking is part of a social occasion rather than an end in itself. We'd therefore like to see more done to encourage drinkers in to the socially responsible environment of the pub, rather than the supermarket or off-licence, where alcohol is bought cheaply for consumption in parks and other uncontrolled places."
Julian Grocock added: "If the government is really serious about supporting pubs, it has an opportunity with next week's Budget to hold any increase on beer duty. This would be hugely beneficial to thousands of pubs who are currently struggling to attract drinkers and would certainly help to secure their future."