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We need to fight for our pubs’ futures

YOUR readers may not be aware that every day in this country, 14 pubs close their doors forever and are either converted into boxy flats with the requisite terrace on the car park or demolished altogether such as the Rodbourne Arms, the Queensfield, the Worthington, the Wheatsheaf, the Cock Robin et al.

The one thing that unites all of these pubs is that they are owned by pub cos, vast property companies which were misguidedly set up under Margaret Thatcher’s ‘beer orders’, designed to break the monopoly of the big breweries.

I read with some alarm your piece on the Crumpled Horn at Eldene. This is a pub owned by Dutch giant Heineken, which bought it along with 1850 other pubs in a deal with Punch Taverns.

These large companies, often owned or financed from overseas, buy and sell our heritage without a thought for tradition or the livelihoods and often the dreams of the people who daily strive to try to make these fantastic assets a success.

Their business model is to force landlords to buy product through them at inflated prices (sometimes twice the level of independent’s purchases) and charge high rents which are steeply increased if the publican does well. Landlords end up working 18 hour days to simply to fill the coffers of these property conglomerates, until they get fed up and throw in the towel.

If too many landlords quit, they simply cash in on the site value - heads they win, tails they don’t lose.

Excellent work by parliament two years ago, known as the ‘market rent option’ was designed to ensure landlords would be charged a fair market rent and then be able to purchase products from any third party, much as you or I could if we rented shop premises. Today this is routinely undermined by the pub cos in order to frustrate the government’s intention.

It is our intention to discuss this matter with Nythe, Eldene and Liden Parish Council, with a view to them seeking that the Crumpled Horn be designated as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act.

It is already Grade 2 listed which gives it some protection, but whilst in the hands of Heineken or any other pub co, its future will forever be in doubt.

I’ve no clue what Heineken paid for the Crumpled Horn in the batch of nearly 2,000 pubs, but if the freehold was sold to a serious independent landlord, at anywhere near that value, as a pub, that would virtually guarantee its survival for all time but don’t hold your breath.

John Stooke, Public Affairs Officer, Swindon & North Wiltshire, CAMRA

Not the Eu’s fault

IN his letter on May 28, Steve Halden is EU bashing again, claiming that a ‘four million’ shortfall in UK housing is due to our 44-year membership of the EU.

Our housing policies are our own and nothing to do with the EU. This figure comes only from a newspaper article suggesting this may perhaps be the case by 2030. The actual number is far lower.

This is nothing to do with the EU, or immigration, which anyway is far higher from outside the EU. It is just due to our own country’s policies.

Of course, it’s always easier to blame foreigners. Mr Halden seems to have studied Nigel Farage’s methods very thoroughly: blame the EU for everything.

Offer no solutions.

Tell a big lie and keep repeating it often until it is believed.

However, the structure of Farage’s Ltd company, the Brexit Party, with no manifesto and only him in charge is proto fascist. It would be a mistake to follow in its footsteps.

Steve Rouse, Wroughton

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