Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Pub Giant Accused of Anti-Enterprise Attitude

The sudden announcement that a Reading pub is to be closed has resulted in campaigners from all political sides rallying round in attempt to save the popular community hub, The Jolly Angler.

An open Facebook group has been set up to keep interested individuals informed about developments.

Recent months have seen an amazing transformation under licensee John Westendorp from a business which had stagnated and was temporarily turned into a squat, into a thriving community facility noted for it's selection of specialist beers.

LibDem Greg Mullholland MP, who has been at the forefront of the national 'Save The Pub' campaign, described how "there are some pubcos closing pubs who want to cash in on a site... and we are fighting against uncaring, unhelpful - and all too often - ignorant councils."

He criticised pubcos for placing restrictive covenants on pubs and is pushing for changes to planning law, preventing corporate owners from applying for change of use without an overwhelming case and thereby forcing them to take their community responsibilities seriously.

Reading East parliamentary campaigner Cllr Gareth Epps supported his colleague's campaign efforts saying,
"This local example highlights a set of wider issues that require action from local and national Government. It is time that good community pubs were cherished, before they are gone forever."
Conservative blogger Wat Tyler is also saddened by the closure and agrees that it's time for the council to get assertive.

Even noted anti-alcohol campaigner, Labour's Anneliese Dodds, stated that she was appalled by the suddenness of the decision to close the real ale centre, while Green Party activist Rob White summed up by saying "There is a lot of enthusiasm not to turn it into housing... it’s part of the glue which holds Newtown together."

Reading Post has conducted several interviews all opposed to the the move by Enterprise Inns, but the editors clearly think there is still a need for some kind of celebrity endorsement.

Meanwhile locally-based TV chef and entrepreneur Anthony Worrall Thompson has got involved in efforts to amend the blanket smoking ban which he argues is excessive and is having an unecessarily detrimental effect on the pub business and has resulted in the unexpected side-effect of pushing smokers onto the pavements.

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