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Thursday, 12 November 2009

MP's bill to protect pubs

Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, is proposing a bill to give local amenities such as pubs, banks, chemists, post offices, shops and restaurants extra protection. It would ensure that local authorities could insist on planning permission before the demolition or change-of-use of “all premises or land used or most recently used as a local service; and for connected purposes”. It’s nicely phrased to chime in with the government’s legislation on sustainable communities, although not with the anti-alcohol puritanism that is increasingly permeating government thinking.

The full article is in the Morning Advertiser, the pub trade's newspaper. On the surface it looks good, and it would make a pleasant change to see Parliament do something positive about community pubs, instead of wittering on about communities while asphyxiating the amenities that sustain them.

I do have some reservations, as Mr Mulholland is not an unalloyed hero. He is the MP who last year proposed limiting the size of wine glasses in pubs and restaurants to 125ml because he felt larger glasses leads to people losing track of how many units they had consumed, as if they’d be counting. Smaller glasses might simply encourage them to buy the whole bottle to avoid multiple trips to the bar and thereby cause them to drink even more, but MPs are good at causing unintended consequences.

Still, this bill looks interesting, although I’m not confident that it will get anywhere.

2 comments:

  1. To be fair to Greg Mulholland, he was only proposing that pubs should be made to offer 125ml glasses alongside larger ones, not instead of them, which doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

    A worry with the current proposal is that it might hold back urban regeneration if it's made more difficult to change the use of closed premises because of a need to jump through planning hoops.

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  2. Inevitably, tightening up planning laws will have consequences elsewhere, but these should only cause a significant delay if there good grounds for protecting a threatened pub. On balance, this suggestion would in my view have more benefits than drawbacks.

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