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Real Community Commitment

New figures show 29 pubs closing per week

by Ashleigh 1/23/2015 12:07:00 PM

New figures show that the number of net pub closures stands at 29 per week, from the previous six month period.

The release of the figures coincide with a new clause to the Infrastructure Bill in England, recently tabled by a cross-party group of MPs, which would mean that planning permission is always required before demolishing or converting a pub into a supermarket, a convenience store or any other retail use.

CAMRA is pressing the Government to act now to save pubs in light of the latest figures. Tim Page, CAMRA chief executive, said: “It’s currently possible to covert a pub into a betting shop, pay-day loan store or supermarket without the need for planning permission, making it far too easy for pubs, valued by the community, to be lost without local people having a say. Given the huge contribution that pubs make to community life in Britain we believe this cannot be right.”

However, Brigid Simmonds, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive, said the figures did not accurately reflect “the increasing confidence we are now seeing in the pub sector, very much supported by Government action on beer duty, business rates and other measures introduced.”


Record sales at rail station pubs throughout Christmas

by Ashleigh 1/21/2015 12:06:00 PM

Christmas retail trading at Network Rail’s 18 managed stations was the busiest on record, with overall sales up 15.8%, according to figures released by the rail operator.

Pubs and bars were the fourth best-performing category behind bread, retail services and clothing. The data indicates consumers’ appetites for convenience shopping and dining at travel hubs is growing, as their high street habits continue to change.

David Biggs, managing director of Network Rail Property, said that the figures are a result of an increased focus on creating stations that are destinations, not just places to get from A to B: “Our strategy is to listen to our customers and put them at the heart of everything we do. We’re bringing retailers to our stations that give customers what they want in the time they have available and our results are showing this strategy is working.

At Christmas time in particular, when people are balancing work and home life, our stations offer the right mix of retail options and food and beverage offers to complement the high street.”

London station King’s Cross was the best performing across the network with a Christmas period sales growth of almost 50%. Stations outside of London also mirrored the festive trend with Glasgow and Birmingham growing by 26% and 22%.


UK's most beard-friendly pub named

by Ashleigh 1/20/2015 12:06:00 PM

The Jolly Butchers in Stoke Newington has scooped ‘Beard Friendly Pub of the Year’ by the British interest group, the Beard Liberation Front.

The group, described as an ‘informal network of beard-wearers’, is an organisation that campaigns in support of beards and ‘against anti-beard discrimination’. Criteria for the qualified pubs included: having a significant number of beard-wearing customers, employing bearded staff and having beard-friendly beers.

Keith Flett, the Beard Liberation Front organiser, said: “As 75% to 80% of the total customers who go to the Jolly Butchers are beard wearers, the pub is giving an outstanding contribution to drinking diversity.”

Other beard-friendly pubs on the list include the Urban Tap House in Cardiff, The 23 Club in Liverpool and The Cock Tavern in Hackney.


Pub is the Hub secures additional funding

by Ashleigh 1/20/2015 12:05:00 PM

Pub is the Hub has secured funding for its advice, guidance and training services for a further three years.

The not-for-profit organisation will receive £452,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme, to enable its regional advisors to work with interested local authorities so local pubs and licensees can provide additional services on the basis of community needs.

The new funding follows the success of the first three-year programme launched in 2011, which inspired a variety of projects across 11 local authorities in the country. It resulted in 27 new services at pubs, from shops and libraries to help for elderly residents.

John Longden, chief executive of Pub is the Hub, said: “We are so delighted to have the recognition and support from the Big Lottery Fund, which will help the organisation to fill a very important role in advising great licensees to provide a variety of much needed and vital services within their small local communities. We only exist through donations and grants such as this, so fundraising is always uppermost in our thoughts.”


BBPA writes to MPs urging beer duty cut

by Ashleigh 1/19/2015 12:04:00 PM

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, has written to MPs, urging them to support a Parliamentary motion urging a cut in beer duty in the Budget on Wednesday 18 March.

The Early Day Motion (EDM) has been tabled by campaigning MP, Andrew Griffiths, and already has the support of 44 MPs from six parties in Parliament. The EDM urges the government to consider a further cut in beer duty in the 2015 Budget, which would secure jobs, help keep pub pints affordable and support Britain’s much-loved pubs.

Simmonds is also urging BBPA members, and all those who would like to see a third, historic cut in beer duty, to write to their MPs urging them to support the measure. She said: “Andrew Griffiths campaigns tirelessly for Britain’s beer and pubs, and we should all urge our MPs to support his Early Day Motion. I hope as many MPs as possible will join calls for a third beer duty cut in this year’s Budget. We can create new jobs and boost the economy, as well as keeping a pint in the pub as affordable as we can.”


Pub serves January Christmas dinner for elderly

by Ashleigh 1/16/2015 12:04:00 PM

A pub in Kent has started the New Year with festive celebrations as it held a Christmas dinner for pensioners.

The Queens Head in Boughton-under-Blean, hosted a three-course-dinner for 88 pensioners from the village on Wednesday 14 January. Licensee, David Kennedy, cooked the meal with help from volunteers and food donated by local businesses.

Kennedy said: “It is a real community effort and it gets bigger each year. A group of residents start by compiling a list of all the OAPs living in the village, and then send invitations to them. The first year we had 40 refusals, this year we only had two. We had to borrow some tables from the village hall just to get everyone in!

“There was a great atmosphere and everyone really enjoyed themselves. It’s a fantastic way for residents in the village to get to know each other.”


BII launches annual awards

by Ashleigh 1/16/2015 12:03:00 PM

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has started its search for the top people in the hospitality sector with the launch of five industry awards.

The awards, which include Apprentice of the Year, Fundraiser of the Year, Beer Sommelier of the Year, the Jeremy Allen Award and the SAB Miller Award, will recognise the outstanding work of individuals across the licensed trade sector – alongside the flagship honour of Licensee of the Year.

The closing date for all entries is Thursday 12 February, however entries for the Licensee of the Year award have now closed. The winners for each award will be announced at the BII Summer Event, which will be held at The Artillery Garden at The HAC in Moorgate, London on Tuesday 2 June.


House of Commons publishes pubs code report

by Ashleigh 1/8/2015 2:36:00 PM

The House of Commons has published a short report on the Government’s moves to establish a statutory pubs code and adjudicator.

The report examines the proposals for regulation, and provides a useful summary of recent developments, as well as key points made during last year’s committee stage of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

The Bill is now in the House of Lords for further scrutiny following MPs vote in November to include a market-rent only (MRO) clause for tied tenants. The clause means that companies with more than 500 pubs and at least one tenanted/leased site will have to offer a MRO option at certain trigger points, including lease/tenancy renewals, rent reviews, change of terns or change of pub company / pub ownership.

The government has accepted the outcome of the vote, with the focus now on making the option workable and to minimise the risks of unintended consequences. Peers will discuss amendments during the Bill’s committee stage in the House of Lords in the coming weeks.


Pubs can help solve youth unemployment

by Ashleigh 1/6/2015 2:35:00 PM

Pubs and bars can offer a solution to youth unemployment says pub industry skills body, the Perceptions Group.

In response to Labour’s claim that long-term youth unemployment is costing taxpayers more than £180 million a year, the industry body has said the government must show more support for the licensed retail sector, which offers valuable opportunities for young people.

The sector creates one in six of all new jobs for 18-24 year olds, with the possibility of onward progression. In 2014 the sector created almost 30,000 jobs for young people. People 1st, the hospitality skills organisation, predicts this area will need an additional 848,000 workers by 2020, with one in four moving into the pub and bar industry.

Anthony Pender, Perceptions Group vice chairman, said: “Youth employment has always been a challenge for the government, however there are thousands of jobs out there. More support is needed to help educate and inform students, teachers and careers advisors about the vast range of opportunities that exist within the vibrant pub sector.”


2015 to be record year for UK hospitality

by Ashleigh 1/5/2015 2:35:00 PM

This year is expected to be a record one for the UK’s tourism and hospitality industries with spend from overseas visitors forecast to reach £22 billion for the first time. 

According to national tourism agency, VisitBritain, inbound tourist spend will increase 4.5% in 2015, which is almost £1 billion more than is thought to have been spent in 2014.

The ongoing growth means that tourism – according to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid – is now a major driver of economic growth in Britain.

He said: “Britain has so much to offer tourists, with our stunning countryside, great heritage, world class sport and culture. Working closely with the tourism industry we will continue to champion the UK abroad as part of our long term economic plan.”

Hospitality businesses located next to heritage hotspots, such as Buckingham Palace, Edinburgh Castle and Stonehenge are expected to benefit most with inbound tourists putting them in their top five must-sees. Other attractions high on the list include Chester Zoo, the National Railway Museum in York, Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyards and the Tate Museum in St Ives.