Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Alan Hayes alan.hayes@trin­i­tymir­

THOU­SANDS of pub land­lords will have greater free­dom with buy­ing their beer, if a sur­prise de­feat for the gov­ern­ment makes its way into law books.

And beer drinkers could see the price of their favourite tip­ple tum­ble, as the rules on ‘tied houses’ are re­laxed.

The Small Business Bill now con­tains a clause al­low­ing ten­ants of the six largest pub com­pa­nies (‘pub­cos’) to rene­go­ti­ate with their land­lord, fol­low­ing the re­bel­lion by a hand­ful of Tory and Lib Dem MPs on Tues­day last week.

In ex­change for an in­de­pen­dently ad­ju­di­cated mar­ket rent for the premises, li­censees will be al­lowed a free hand in sourc­ing their beers, if they choose.

The Cam­paign For Real Ale (CAMRA) wel­comed the move.

“This sim­ple choice could spell the end of pubco li­censees be­ing forced out of business through high rents and tied prod­uct prices,” it said in a state­ment.

Op­po­nents, such as the Bri­tish Beer and Pub As­so­ci­a­tion, take a dif­fer­ent view, how­ever.

“It would hugely dam­age in­vest­ment and jobs, and re­sult in 1,400 more pubs clos­ing, with 7,000 job losses – as the gov­ern­ment’s own re­search shows,” a spokesman said.

Gary Car­pen­ter, the land­lord at The Gen­eral Eliott, in St John’s Road, Uxbridge, said: “We can ob­vi­ously shop around smaller beer whole­salers, whose prod­ucts are sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper. Fi­nan­cially it would make a big dif­fer­ence.”

Shaun Wal­ters, li­censee of The King Wil­liam IV in Sip­son Road, Sip­son, and a Greene King ten­ant, also wel­comed the news.

Although slightly wary of the mar­ket rent el­e­ment, and the pos­si­bil­ity that pub­cos could play hard­ball with it to re­coup any losses on the wet side of the business, he wel­comed the chance to get beer at a bet­ter price and from where he chooses.

“At the end of the day, I wel­come it; if I can get my beer cheaper, I’m happy,” Mr Wal­ters said.

n LAW CHANGE: Pub ten­ants may be get­ting a freer rein for sourc­ing their beers if the Small Business Bill en­ters the law books Li­brary

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