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UK: 7000 pub-goers blast Gov't mandatory code

21 August, 2009

UK: More than 7,000 pub-goers have contacted the Home Office to object to planned new measures further threatening the future of British pubs.

The wave of protest, organised by the “Axe the Beer Tax, Save the Pub campaign”, has come in response to the Government’s consultation exercise which invited the public to make its views known on the proposed Mandatory Code imposing more legal sanctions on licensees across the country.

And public opposition to the plans appears to be reflected among the views of many local councils and other local bodies too, as expressed in a series of regional workshops organised by the Home Office between 7 July and 6 August.

In 10 workshops held across England and Wales, there was substantial opposition to the Code in all of them.  In Birmingham, only two of the 120 plus attendees agreed with the Code with more than 93% opposed.  In the East of England event, 77% of attendees were against, and 70% in Wales.

In a further blow to the Government's heavy-handed approach, the Local Government Association has officially come out against the Mandatory Code.  Its official response to the Home Office says that the code "will penalise the vast majority of responsible on-trade retailers at a time when the industry cannot afford this.”

The Home Office's consultation period ended on Friday 14 August, and Ministers must now assess whether it can go ahead with their original plans.  The legislation is part of the Policing and Crime Bill due to be debated in the House of Lords in October.

By the end of the consultation period last week, 7153 people had objected to the planned Mandatory Code via the Axe the Beer Tax, Save the Pub website.

Commenting on the code and the responses to the Government’s consultation process, BBPA chief executive, Dr David Long, said: “It is perfectly clear from the last few weeks that there is overwhelming opposition to the Mandatory Code, from the public, licensees and the wider industry, and now – it appears – from councils and others too.

“For more than 7,000 members of the public to object to plans of this sort is unprecedented, and the Home Office must now listen to common sense and put a stop to this heavy-handed approach.

“The British beer and pub industry fully agrees with the need to end irresponsible promotions, and the police and local councils already have the powers to stop them. But we object to these unnecessary new burdens which will cost the industry millions of pounds to implement and will only result in even more pubs forced to close.

“More than 50 pubs are now closing every week across the country.  It is time for the Government to begin to extend support to a valued British industry rather than heaping more and more pressure on it in these difficult times.”