Torridge MP calls for more help for pubs

TORRIDGE and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox has called for the Government to do more to help local pubs in the light of new figures released yesterday (Wednesday). Research shows that 21 pubs have closed in the region since 2005 - the worst in Devon and Cornwall.

TORRIDGE and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox has called for the Government to do more to help local pubs in the light of new figures released yesterday (Wednesday).Research shows that 21 pubs have closed in the region since 2005 - the worst in Devon and Cornwall. The figures, which come from research commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, show that the vast majority of the closures came in 2007 and 2008 - after the ban on smoking in indoor public places.The British Beer & Pub Association has estimated that pubs are now closing at the rate of 36-a-week because of the smoking ban; fragile consumer confidence; competition from supermarkets; and higher beer taxes imposed by the Government. Mr Cox said he had received "many hundreds" of letters from concerned publicans, independent brewers and pub-goers who are worried that the recent tax rises will spell the end for the traditional rural pub. He said: "Local pubs in Torridge and West Devon are a vital part of our social fabric and community life. "While big pub chains may be making money out of Labour's new drinking laws, small everyday pubs in our villages and market towns are suffering from the combined onslaught of higher beer taxes, a weakening economy, supermarkets selling alcohol below cost price and the smoking ban."Whatever people's views on the smoking ban, it has had a major impact on many pubs."But Mr Cox said the Government seemed determined not to help. "Only a few months ago, the Government's own tax inspectors admitted that pubs may be eligible for refunds on their business rates, but pub owners are still being kept in the dark about this U-turn. "All Ministers seem to care about is squeezing extra money from publicans and everyday pub-goers."We have already lost many of our Post Offices thanks to the Government's neglect and lack of interest in the countryside. It is vital that our pubs do not go the same way. "Pubs are some of our area's most loved small businesses. It is about time that the Government actually did something to help them survive." n MORE help for pubs: Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox shows his support for local pubs by pulling pints at the White Hart, Holsworthy.


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