Pubs are part of the fabric of British life and contribute tens of billions of pounds each year to our country’s economy - yet it’s estimated each week 20 of them close their doors forever.
However, with Britain’s craft beer industry flourishing, communities battling to save their local, and new legislation to protect publicans, change just might be in the air.
Councils seem to be taking a stand against the trend to change pubs into luxury flats. The Carlton Tavern, in Westminster, London, was illegally demolished last year by Israeli developer CLTX Limited. But Westminster council has ordered that the historic pub, which was built between the two second world wars, be restored ‘brick by brick’.
It’s a coup for the community, and for Historic England, which was just about to the list the Tavern before it was razed to the ground.
Craft beer revolution
Brewdog is one of the UK’s fastest growing food and drink companies - and expert taster Sarah Warman, alongside reporter Jonny Maitland, samples some craft beers with flavours ranging from light limoncello to intense coffee, and finds out how the 1700 craft breweries around the UK are propping up the bar when it comes to the Great British Pub industry.
Conflicts of interest concerns
But it’s not all rosy in the beer garden. There’s a concern that big pub companies, driven by profits, aren’t always looking after their tenants. This means that the men and women who run our pubs are sometimes finding it difficult to keep going.
A new Pubs Code was brought in by the government this year to try and level the playing field. It should prevent big pub-owning companies (Pubcos), from trapping pub tenants into contracts where rents were low but tenants were obliged to buy the Pubco’s expensive beer.
However, Trudy Thomas, of the Rifleman’s Arms, Droitwich, told Tonight how she decided to take the ‘fair market rent option’ offered by the Pubs Code, but Marston’s, the company that own her pub, wrote to her with an offer that doubled her rent, from £23,000 per year to £46,000 per year.
Under the Code, Trudy can apply to a new Pubs Code Adjudicator to appeal this offer. However, there are concerns that the Adjudicator - Paul Newby - has conflicts of interest, because he has a financial interest in Fleurets, a major estate agent that often acts for the big PubCos.
But Adjudicator Paul Newby, a former Director of Fleurets, told Tonight reporter Jonny Maitland that he declared his financial interest and those in government who appointed him “don't see that as a bar to [his] ability to do this job fairly and impartially.”
Rose and Crown - example of an inter-war pub
Tradacademy - Sea Shanty singers