The British government has appointed a minister of pubs, who will be in charge of trying to slow the rate at which pubs are closing.
Wentworth MP John Healey, also housing and planning minister, will head a five-minister task force. The Morning Advertiser reports he is considering tax breaks for pubs and giving tenants the right to buy pubs from landlords if they are threatened with closure.
British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the rate of pub closures slowed from 52 a week in the first half of 2009 to 39 a week, but remains a serious problem.
The BBPA hailed the decision as “great news” and a “clear sign” that its campaigns, Axe the Tax and I’m Backing the Pub, had had an impact. “Pubs now have a strategic place in Government and we could not have asked for a better minister than John Healey,” said BBPA director of communications Mark Hastings.
Healey himself said: “Pubs are often at the heart of community life. And they are important meeting places for many people. While we can’t stop every pub from closing it’s right we do everything possible to back them. But they need help now so I am determined to have a deal on the table with a package of practical help in the next few weeks.”