Politi­cians join fight for pubs

Brew­eries are urged to help strug­gling land­lords

Lennox Herald - - FRONT PAGE - JENNY FOULDS

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

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