Politicians join fight for pubs
Breweries are urged to help struggling landlords
Breweries are being urged not allow Dumbarton and Vale pubs to go bust due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Local politicians have spoken out after the Lennox Herald revealed last week how a Dumbarton landlord has warned many bars may not reopen due to full rent charges being imposed by breweries.
David Woodcock, who operates the Burgh Bar in Dumbarton High Street, said he could be left up to £20,000 in debt as owner Punch Pubs is deferring rent payments instead of cancelling or reducing them.
Like every pub across the country, David had to shut his pub in March but he is still facing full-price rent charges.
He said some pubs in Dumbarton and Alexandria may not reopen as thousands of pounds in rent debts and no income will leave them battling for survival.
It comes as a petition was lodged with the UK Government in a plea for help and has received thousands of signatures.
West Dunbartonshire MP is calling on breweries to listen to the concerns and help pubs get through to the other side.
He said: “Pubs and restaurants are a valued part of our communities and they have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our local pub landlords have done the right thing by closing as per the public health guidance.
“Many are accessing the support packages put in place but face financial difficulties due to the large pub companies refusing to ease rent demands which are supposed to be tied to turnover.
“I’d hope the big pub breweries will listen to these concerns and step in to help local pubs get through these difficult times.
“I would urge any pub licencees needing support to get in touch.”
Meanwhile, Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said both the Scottish and UK governments should be stepping in.
She said: “It is concerning that local pubs are facing the threat of closure and serious long term debt because landlords have not made concessions during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by the crisis and will be one of the last industries to get back to normal in the coming months.
“Both the Scottish and UK governments must ensure that there is consistency in the help and support that they are giving to pubs during this time and that breweries are not allowing pubs to go under.”
Mandy Southall, of Punch Pubs, said: “Since the closure was announced we have deferred the collection of rent and other charges for every one of our pubs until further notice and we are working closely with each of our publicans on an individual basis to understand their circumstances and how to best support them going forward, taking into account the level of government support to which they are eligible.”
She added that the firm is providing stock to bars as required so they can adapt their businesses to offer takeaway and delivery services.
However, David said this option has not been made available to him. He said: “If the pub doesn’t open until next year, which is a possibility, that will be me £20,000 in debt for a business I can’t run.”
Speaking out David Woodcock and his wife Anne-Marie of the Burgh Bar spoke about their fears for the future as breweries continue to charge full rent during the pandemic