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Pub Closures - An open letter by branch member, Clifford Evans

3 November 2012

The following is an open letter by Clifford Evans - Bristol & West General branch member and also a committee member of the West of England Variety branch -  written to Enterprise Pub Co about the way they are closing pubs.

This letter can also be found on The Post's website:

Having been an entertainer for over 30 years, I have probably played in most of the public houses you manage.

I am also a lay official with the performers union Equity, who have over 37,500 members.

Equity are a member of the parliamentary Performers Alliance, who debate all issues relating to entertainment, including the recently changed Live Music Bill, helping large numbers of venues to get back on their feet by removing the need for an entertainment licence for venues holding 200 people or less.

Camra, to whom I also belong, have achieved a petition of over 100,000 signatures asking that the Beer Escalator Duty be abolished. Consequently, they will be going to Westminster on December 12th 2012 to ask that this happen. This has also generated parliamentary debate.

Both of these organisation's lobby and campaign tirelessly to save venues from closure, taking the vital community value of them into the highest consideration. The long term effects of your current policy to reduce the number of pubs for profit will have far reaching consequences which will be irreversible, the entire landscape of social interaction will be rewritten because of your determination to continue down your present road.

I have to ask you having outlined the position of both Equity and Camra, why when other groups such as the aforementioned are fighting valiantly to secure the future of the type of venues you own, you are failing completely to respond to the massive public objections surrounding your policy of selling of your venues to Tesco,

Sainsbury's or any other outlet where our pubs are currently placed.

Do you think that you are helping any part of the community whatsoever when you allow through your sales, for a Tesco to open up right next door to a Co-op. "The Fellowship Bristol" The buildings are actually joined. I also know that it was a condition of sale that Tesco were NOT advertised as the new owners on the signage, so by the time the locals found out, it was too late to object. You will have had to agree to this in order for the sale to proceed.

When given an opportunity to talk to enraged residents and traders at the Bristol House in Weston-super-Mare so that they could share their concerns with you and Tesco, you both declined. Why am I not surprised.

Of course, with planning consent not being granted, Tesco are no longer interested, but quite rightly, everyone in the area is now keeping a very close eye on the future of this venue.

In today's climate, I am not unsympathetic that somewhere along the line, cuts must be made, and money must be generated from sales. However, there is nothing preventing you from selling the pubs with a caveat that they must remain as a pub to whoever buys them.

There are now more and more residents groups who are buying back their pubs, post offices and the like and running them very successfully. Wouldn't you rather be part of this, instead of the current reputation you have of being completely unconcerned with the drastic effects of unemployment, reduction in community resources, and an attitude of we will do what we like in spite of anyone else.

The public are your friends, a well-run, friendly local is a vital part of our community. Surely, unless you have a private arrangement, why would you be in bed with supermarkets who are decimating your trade at every opportunity selling cut price alcohol. Why, unless it is pure greed, are you raising your rents to a level which you know no landlord will be able to achieve, thus closing the venue, and making it available for sale. Does this show any concern for a viable licensed premises. I don't think so. Your duty of care to the public, and to yourselves, is to employ managers as an investment in everyone's future, that will work honestly and with enthusiasm to serve everyone's' needs. This should, and could be your intention.

Clifford Evans

Related Article: Bristol sees 24 pubs close as beer tax keeps rising

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