This afternoon I met virtually with the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group to discuss the importance for pubs and breweries of reopening for Christmas.
Pubs across the UK are continuing under their second lockdown of the year, whilst trying to finalise their plans to reopen ahead of Christmas.
MPs met via Zoom with brewers and pub operators to discuss the issues facing the sector and their plans to welcome people back in December into COVID-secure environments.
December is always the industry’s busiest trading period of the year and it is crucial that Christmas trading is successful whilst ensuring that customers and staff are fully protected against the risk of infection.
We heard from industry representatives including Mike Clist (until recently Chief Executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, and now a consultant to the pub industry), Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), and Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UK Hospitality (the leading hospitality trade association in the UK).
We also had leading experts join us from across the breweries and pubs trades sectors, with Andy Slee (Chairman of the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham), Clive Chesser (Chief Executive of Punch Taverns), Chris Jowsey (Chief Executive of Admiral Taverns), William and Oliver Robinson (Joint Managing Directors of Robinsons Brewery), Rupert Thompson (Chairman of the Hogs Back Brewery), amongst others.
On the call as well were Tom Stainer (Chief Executive of CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale), James Calder (Chief Executive of the Society of Independent Brewers), and Sacha Lord (co-creator of the Parklife festival and The Warehouse Project, and the Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester).
It is absolutely clear that there are specific challenges being faced by pubs and breweries across the UK, and I am committed to working with them to do everything possible to ensure the short- and long-term stability of the industry.
I will be meeting with Simon Longbottom, Chief Executive of the Stonegate Pub Company and the landlords of the three pubs they operate in Carshalton and Wallington, in the coming days to discuss this in more detail.
I am also seeking meetings with Patrick Dardis, Chief Executive of Young & Co.’s Brewery and the landlords of their pubs in our area, including Connal at the Duke's Head, as well as Tom Davies, the Chief Executive of Brakspear Brewery.
Emma McClarkin from BBPA and I are also hoping to meet next week as well to talk more widely about the issues affecting the sector as a whole.
And, of course, I continue to work with our two fantastic small breweries - Signal and Anspach & Hobday - as well as with CAMRA and SIBA to look at how best to support craft and micro breweries across the UK.
The Great British Pub is one of the oldest industries in the UK, and I hope this reassures you that I will be doing everything I can to support the jobs and livelihoods of all those who work in it.