MP Julian Huppert, who has been fighting for a change in the law to protect publicans, will meet representatives from the industry tomorrow (Friday, November 28) to find out how new legislation could help them.
Julian will meet Edward Barker, landlord of Cambridge’s The Architect and The Alexandra pubs, Sam Calverly who runs the city’s Calverly Brewery and Alistair Cook from the Cambridge branch of the Campaign for Real Ale.
Their meeting comes after Julian backed a new clause in the Small Business Bill which would stop large pub companies charging hugely inflated prices and excessive rents to their tenant licensees.
The change to the legislation would allow publicans to opt for a rental only deal from the pub companies giving them the opportunity to buy beer on the open market at prices up to 70 per cent below what pub companies force them to pay.
And it would be good news for the country’s small breweries which, due to the dominance of the large chains, are unable to supply the majority of pubs.
Mr Calverly, who runs his family brewery in Hooper Street, said: "We are very grateful to Julian for his backing and support with the new amendment to the Small Business Bill. This has been a huge win for microbreweries that otherwise find themselves unable to supply a majority of pubs.
“Ironically, even with the economies of scale that the large breweries have they still charge their tenants a huge amount more than the average microbrewer would consider charging for their beer. Our intention has always been to supply pubs around the Cambridge area, this will be a lot more viable now."
Publican Edward Barker is a tenant with pub company, Everards which, unlike the large pub companies, releases its tie on cask condition ales and welcomes the smaller independent breweries.
The scheme, known as Project William, was launched in 2007 and the company teams up with local breweries and publicans to transform struggling or closed pub businesses.
Mr Barker said: "I believe small business are the cornerstone of entrepreneurship in this country and the recent economic turmoil has stifled their growth.
“The work Julian and his team have done in getting this Bill passed is a step in the right direction, both in terms of liberating the restrictions of tenanted landlords and by allowing small brewers access to markets that were previously closed.
“Thirty one pubs close every week in England and we hope that this legislation will allow landlords and landladies across the country to make a decent living for the hard work they put in day in day out.”
Alistair Cook said: “For too long, too many tenants of tied-houses have had to get by on less than a living wage. The amendment will help as it will give them the option of buying beer at market prices.”
And he added that “the amendment is also very important for small brewers who will be able to sell to more pubs. Drinkers will get more choice and they will not have the price of their pint artificially inflated by the big pub owning companies.
“I would like to thank The Architect owners, Everards, for being a progressive pub owning company as well as a traditional brewer. Their Project William scheme is an example we would love to see mirrored elsewhere.”
Julian said that giving publicans more freedom to go out to the open market for their beer is “good news for them and good news for the smaller independent breweries”.
“This legislation is vitally important if we are to give pubs a fighting chance. Many tied publicans are struggling to keep their businesses viable while pub companies are raking off huge amounts of profit because of their inflated charges.
“In the last 20 years, Cambridge has lost many of its well-known pubs. They are not only important small businesses which provide jobs but they are also a valuable part of our communities.”