Farron calls on councils to offer pubs a safety net
South Lakes MP Tim Farron has called on both South Lakeland and Eden district councils to list community pubs throughout our area as 'community assets', a movewhich could safeguard rural pubs in Cumbria.
If a community shop, pub or village post office is threatened with closure, parish councils can use new powers to keep it running, including through the provision of financial support. The Localism Bill enables parish councils, after negotiation with district councils, to offer discretionary business rates discounts to local businesses; and they will also have more power to devise policies in their neighbourhood plan that will protect local shops.
Research carried out by Oxford Economics last year showed that in Westmorland and Lonsdale there are 136 pubs, providing jobs to over 2000 local people. The research also showed that pubs within the SouthLakes contribute over £31 million to our national GDP and pay £18 million in tax to the Exchequer.
Tim is well known as a long time campaigner for our pub trade and is a member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Recent research by CAMRA shows that two pubs are closing every day.
Tim has also proposed that Cumbria County Council support our pubs by providing grants and asking them to support community services like shops, post offices and other community facilities. Currently Essex County Council offers grants to pubs up to 50% of any capital investment, up to £5,000. Tim would like to see pubs given support to be able to follow the lead of The Black Swan in Ravenstonedale, which has opened a community shop on the premises.
Residents of Ravenstonedale previously had to make a 12-mile round trip to buy a pint of milk, until landlady Louise Dinnes opened a village shop selling newspapers, groceries and local crafts.
Tim said: "It is important that we work hard to save our local pubs. I think that there are a few simple steps we can take to really help these vital community assets. We need to freeze the beer tax, support our brewers and give small grants to pubs to house community facilities. By giving community pubs a small grant, we can help rural pubs diversify and bring back vital community services. I want to see the County Council back this scheme and commit to supporting rural areas."