St Albans Leads the Way in Supporting Pubs 26 Oct 2020
St Albans leads the way in campaigning for the hospitality sector as momentum gathers for a parliamentary vote on the 10pm pub curfew next Tuesday.
Pubs have overcome huge challenges since March, but Iain Loe, chairman of South Herts Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said the additional measures of track and trace, 40-60 per cent reduced capacity and compulsory table service has led to pubs fighting “to keep their head above water.”
Home to the national headquarters of CAMRA, the oldest pub in Britain and now the #CallTimeOnTheCurfew campaign, St Albans is working hard, as Loe describes, “to protect, preserve and promote pubs” while the government continues to hinder them.
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper argued in parliament on 1st October that the government was “covering their eyes and ears” to the issue and drew attention to the lack of scientific evidence supporting the curfew, as it causes a dangerous exodus from pubs onto the street.
Cooper’s concern is shared by her constituency; Councillor Mandy McNeil, portfolio holder for business, culture and tourism in St Albans, wrote to Cooper on behalf of over 50 pubs, bars and cafés, prompting her parliamentary address.
Working with landlords and as a previous pub owner, McNeil has suggestions on how to better support the hospitality industry, including “a curfew at 11pm, if there is to be a curfew, a reduction in VAT on alcohol to 5% and no business rates for another year.”
McNeil helped organise the #KeepTheLightsOn campaign, where landlords flicker their lights at 10pm in morse code for ‘SOS’ and share videos on social media.
She believes St Albans is passionate because “Hospitality makes up a huge part of our local and national economy. They are a foundation, particularly for the tourism sector. Knock out the foundation and the house falls.”
The highly anticipated vote was pushed back last week at signals of a Tory rebellion, but a majority on Tuesday could see some lifeblood returned to the suffering hospitality sector.