In a shameless act of political hand-wringing, Local Government minister Grant Shapps has called on Labour to apologise for “the net closure of 3,500 pubs”. This follows publication of official government statistics that show the net number of pubs on the Rating List dropped 3,530 from 1997 to 2009.
Now the last government may not have been the pub’s best friend, but he starts to lose the plot when he claims “They only people they helped were the yobs who benefited from the 24 hour licensing laws which fuelled a surge in alcohol-fuelled violence in our high streets.” Really? A very strange reaction to the one of the most liberating pieces of legislation ever passed.
So what does this champion of pubs have up his sleeve? Shapps said the Coalition would help pubs by banning the sale of below cost alcohol, reforming licensing laws to make it easier for pubs to host live music and provide expert advice to communities looking to buy pubs.
But there’s more, lots more. They also plan to “overhaul” the current licensing regime, which could see the abolition of 24 hr licensing, the imposition of a late night levy and the introduction of health as a licensing objective. Plus give even more power to residents over licensing.
Lovely. So unless I’m mistaken they want to give more power to NIMBYs, stop you getting cheap booze and restrict the hours you can spend in the pub.
Two words: Pot. Kettle.