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Save Our Pubs & Clubs – join us in Westminster on June 29

May 23rd, 2011 Posted in Personal Freedom by

Liberal Vision are off to the Houses of Parliament on 29th June. Well… We have certainly signed up to Simon Clark’s genius event. Details from the Taking Liberties website are shown below – you can click here to find out how to get your own invite to the reception.

Special thanks go to Rt Hon Greg Knight MP (Conservative), Roger Godsiff MP (Labour) and John Hemming MP (Liberal Democrat) who are hosting the event.

The fight to amend the smoking ban is going to the heart of Westminster.

On Wednesday June 29, two days before the fourth anniversary of the smoking ban in England, we want supporters of the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign to join us at the Houses of Parliament.

Supporters are invited to attend a special reception hosted by The Rt Hon Greg Knight MP (Conservative), Roger Godsiff MP (Labour) and John Hemming MP (Liberal Democrat).

Location: Terrace Pavilion, House of Commons.

Time: 4.00-6.00pm

In advance of the event you will be asked to contact your local MP so you can arrange to meet them at the reception to discuss the smoking ban and related issues.

The aim of the event is to highlight the impact of the ban and demonstrate the strength of feeling that still exists in many quarters.

This is rare opportunity to lobby your MP in the presence of other like-minded people. We need as many people as possible to take part so please support this initiative and encourage others to do so too.

To attend the reception you MUST register in advance. So visit the Taking Liberties website and get yourself on the list.

27 Responses to “Save Our Pubs & Clubs – join us in Westminster on June 29”

  1. Martin Says:

    It’s not the smoking ban that’s killing pubs though, is it? Wetherspoons does very well for itself, and they banned smoking before the law was brought in.

    The biggest culprit is massive companies like Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns, who impose margins on landlords so tight that they can barely make a living (and therefore go out of business).

    The big pub companies don’t care – because the pubs they own form a very large land bank. They can sell pubs to the bug supermarkets to create Tesco Metros/Sainsburys Locals/etc and not have the hassle of applying for alcohol licences.

    So – nice that there’s a cross-party consensus on something, but it’s the wrong something.

  2. Martin (clearly a popular name!) Says:

    I agree with Martin. The Pubcos have Squeezed as much money has they can from landlords, sent the poor souls and their families into the modern day version of the Poor House and now they are selling the larger pubs off for supermarkets and the smaller ones are being sold off to be converted into flats!

    In fact one landlord told me his business had GROWN after the smoking ban! What forced him to pack it in was the greedy Pubco, one of the big two, known for their rapacious greed.

    Funny how some people in power cannot see this.

  3. Dave Atherton Says:


    You may want to review my analysis of pub closures. Taking the pre-ban years, 1980 to 2006, the average percentage loss of pubs per year was 0.65%. From 2007, the year of the ban, onwards, the average has been 2.8%.

    In 2007, there were 56,791 pubs in the UK, so one would have expected, based on the long-term trend, 369 pubs to close. The actual figure was 1,409. So, an ‘excess’ of 1,040 pubs closed, suggesting that perhaps three-quarters of the closures may have been caused by the ban. The ‘excess’ closures have continued at a similarly high rate in subsequent years. (Studies of the pub industry byNielsen PLC and PriceWaterhouseCoopers provide additional support for the hypothesis that the smoking ban is a key driving force behind pub closures.)

    Basically 75% of pub closures can be put down to the smoking ban.

  4. Martin Says:


    Correlation is not causality.


    Martin (the first one)

  5. Mike Says:

    What was the closure rate in the early part of the decade? Easy to portray it as low when you’re tracking from 1980 – a trend over thirty years against one over five. I’d like to see the previous five years.

    I agree with the repeal of the smoking ban, and do not deny that some pub closeures have probably resulted from it. But let’s not kid ourselves, sometimes pubs close because drinking at home, with supermarket booze is cheap. People enjoying themselves for less money is, I would have thought, to those who like free markets, a good thing.

  6. Dave Atherton Says:

    @Martin 1

    The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) account for 95% of the pub industry in the UK. Here are the meticulous records they have kept from 1980 to 2010. As I say if you analyse the figures pre ban the average closure rate was 0.6504% per year. Post ban it rose consistently every year to 2.775% a 4 fold increase, 400% that is statistically significant.

  7. Dave Atherton Says:

    @Martin 1&2

    You mention the beer tie as a possible cause of pub closures. Indeed it might as you are selling your beer at an uncompetitive price. However the beer tie in principle goes back to 1989 when Mrs. Thatcher passed the Beer Orders Act, and landlords/ladies have been complaining ever since. (1)

    E.g. 2003

    “26 June 2003: Crehan: High Court judgment for landlord
    Mr Justice Park in the Chancery Division of the High Court in London handed down his judgment (about 80 pages, HTML) on Bernard Crehan’s claim for damages against his former landlord. The judge accepted that the beer tie had been the cause of Mr Crehan’s business failure, and that he would have been entitled to damages if the lease had been illegal under Article 81.”

    This is 1998

    “july 1998: Passmore v. Morland: High Court judgment against tenant

    High Court judgment striking out a claim by tenant David Passmore alleging that his landlord Morland could not enforce the beer tie. The tie had been agreed with Inntrepreneur and was alleged to have been illegal under Article 81, and that the purported transfer of the benefits of the tie to Morland when it bought the reversion from Inntrepreneur was therefore ineffective. The judge held that “the statutory prohibition in Article 81(1) operates periodically, i.e. it can be turned on and off depending on the surrounding facts”.

    The beer tie was an understandable problem pre ban going back 8 years and continues to be a problem post ban too. The only change in the last 30 years has been the smoking ban.



  8. Dave Atherton Says:

    I thought supermarket booze was going to be mentioned. There has been no sudden reduction in the price of supermarket drink post ban. Here is the empirical evidence.

    “The other major reason cited is cheap supermarket drink. My research has suggested that supermarket drink pre ban was just as cheap then as it is now. The first quote is from the Business Section of The Guardian from July 2004. “But supermarkets sold alcohol at a fraction of the price it was on sale for in pubs, he said. Some were selling brand name cider for 51p a can and export strength lager for 64p during the Euro 2004 football championships.”

    In a letter dated 28th March 2007 Ian R Loe the Research Manager of CAMRA to the Competition Commission states:

    “Research by CAMRA in the period just before Christmas, sound that supermarkets were selling Fosters and Carling for the equivalent of 54p a pint…a pint of beer in a pub 148p to 213p from 1995 to 2005…the cost of supermarket lager ..the average price is down from 70.8p to 67.4p..” Let me remind you this is 4 months before the smoking ban.

    The most obvious evidence of this is from This Is Money where on the 21st September 2006 the prices in Tesco were listed for Fosters lager, Red Smirnoff Red Label Vodka and Jack Daniels. The 2010 prices were taken on the 12th August from

    Beer and spirits 2006 2010

    4x 500 ml Fosters £3.53 3.42*

    Red Smirnoff Vodka 70cl £9.79 £11.00

    Jack Daniels 70cl £18.18 £20.49

    Wine 2004 2010

    Wolf Blass Yellow Label £5.72 £6.74**

    Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay £5.69 £5.24***

    Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet 75cl £4.73 per bottle 5.24****

    * (Adjusted from 440ml)

    ** (special offer reduced from £8.99)

    *** (special offer reduced from £6.99)

    **** (special offer reduced from £6.99)

    I hope this ends the urban myth that supermarket booze all of a sudden became cheap after the smoking ban.

  9. Mike Says:

    @Dave, thanks very much for the year on year figures, while correlation doesn’t mean causation, that is a big jump down beginning in 2007.

    It might do well to publicise the lower rate of closures immediately pre-ban too, as examining the slower trend of closures solely over a longer period of time looks like selective use of a data point ot obfuscate, which clearly by the actual figures it is not.

  10. Geoffrey Payne Says:

    There has also been a economic recession and a squeeze on consumer spending since 2007, shops have also been closing since then and most of that is nothing to do with the smoking ban.

  11. Martin Says:


    Two points:

    1) Can you tell us of another major change to licensed drinking that Labour brought in in 1997?

    Something that directly affected the hours that licensed premises could open? And therefore affect major costs like staff?

    Yes – the liberalisation of the licencing laws also happened in 1997. So we have two factors that changed in that year; not one.

    Like I said earlier, correlation is not causation – and especially when there’s more than one factor that has changed between sample groups.

    2) The British Beer and Pub Association – isn’t this a small body concerned with the interests of a particular type of drinking establishment?
    There’s been an absolutely massive growth in the past fifteen years of cafe bars and other establishments that offer a wider range of social activities than just drinking – you only have to look in any town centre to see this for yourself.

    Picking the BBPA’s figures to bolster your case is like saying that car ownership in Britain has slumped since 1979 when you’re only looking at sales figures of British cars. In fact, this is a really good analogy – like car ownership, people’s drinking patterns have changed and a lot of people under 40 who are regular drinkers simply don’t go to old-fashioned pubs anymore.

    Besides, those BBPA figures show gains in 1998 and 1999, so I don’t know what that makes of your position even if we do believe it.


    the first Martin

  12. Dave Atherton Says:


    Let’s look at the empirical evidence of recessions within the time frames of 1980-2010. (1)

    1980-82 GDP reduction 5.8-5.9%

    1990-2 GDP reduction 2.5%

    2008-9 GDP reduction 6.0-6.5%

    Pub closures as a per centage %

    1980-2 3.188%

    1990-2 2.99%

    2008-10 5.14%

    Also please bare in mind that the recession, i.e. negative growth did not happen until 2008 and 2007 GDP was still positive. I would conclude that recessions while generally have a downward trend in recessions the pub industry has a certain insulation. I would put this down to a number of factors. People may “downgrade” their evening entertainment. Instead of going to a restaurant they may eat at home and go to a wine bar or a pub. Also as wine bars are generally more expensive to drink in people may downgrade from the wine bar to a pub.

    What is interesting is the recession of 1990-2 was relatively ‘light’ but the more severe one of 1980-2 where GDP contracted twice as much, closures were similar.

    The 2008-9 recession was similar to 1980-2 but the closures are 61.23% higher. Which is not too different to my claim of 75% for UK pub closures. Of course smokers have to cut back on spending and become unemployed too.



  13. Martin Says:

    One other thing Dave – I wasn’t talking especially about the “beer-tie” when talking about how the major pubcos dictate margins towards their tenants.

    For a while, many pubs were able to survive by doing their own food – but as the pubcos saw how much money there was to be made, they have also stepped into this particular arena to get a piece of the action.

    Which is why majors like Punch have centrally-collated menus and a food ‘experience’ – they ‘give’ this to tenants with one hand, and take away with the other – making it harder for their tenants to make money without being ‘taxed’ from Head Office.

  14. Dave Atherton Says:

    @Martin (1)

    Not quite sure of your point about 1997, the smoking ban was brought in, in England July 1st 2007. If you look at the stats for 1998-9 with the liberalisation of the licensing laws the number of pubs rose by 900. In my opinion a good thing as it creates more employment and wealth.

    Have I understood your point?

  15. Dave Atherton Says:

    As someone who has had numerous conversations with Inez Ward of Justice for Licencees I do not dispute your facts. In fact I specifically spoke to her about problems with tenanted pubs 6 months ago and she was quite unequivocal that Punch etc had been undermining their landlords before the smoking ban came into effect. The beer tie issue has been around since 1990 from what I have been told and read.

  16. Martin Says:

    Apologies Dave – I thought the smoking ban came in at the same time as hours liberalisation, so on that point I stand corrected.

    But the other points remain – not just the one about mixing up correlation and causality, but especially the one about changed drinking habits. I’ve done a little looking into the BBPA and it turns out that not only are only half of the nation’s pubs are members but it is a group dominated by big brewers!

    The more you look into who’s pulling the strings of the smoking ban amendment lobby, the more you see that it’s controlled by interests who think that they can turn the clock back from the centuries-old decline of the pub. I’m sat in a ‘pub’ right now in central London that’s doing great business and simply doesn’t resemble the traditional ‘pub’ model – there’s food, leather sofas and women. The idea that letting smokers back into pubs is some sort of cure-all is like protecting a domestic car industry by limiting imports, only worse.

    You can play with figures all you want, but there simply is not tens of thousands of smoking drinkers sulking at home tonight who’d rush back in an instant if the law were to change. There’s lots of reasons why people don’t go to traditional pubs anymore; only some of which have been mentioned in this thread. Trying to pin long-term decline on a smoking ban is not only ridiculous, but shows you’ve got a single-issue agenda.

  17. Dave Atherton Says:


    Here are the conclusions of the PriceWaterhouse Coopers report 1 year into the ban, very accurate as 5,800 pubs have closed.

    “According to a report by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2,000 pubs could cease trading in 2008 alone as the industry continues to struggle to adjust a year after the smoking ban was introduced throughout the UK.

    Michael Jervis, advisory partner at PwC, said: “Since our original prediction last year, the rate of pub closures has accelerated: we now expect to see 6,000 pubs closing by 2012.”

  18. Dave Atherton Says:

    Nielsen PLC report.

    “…175 Million Fewer Pints Drunk in England & Wales Since Smoking Ban Came Into Force

    For Release Monday 30th June 2008″

    Beer and spirits sales have also suffered. In the 9 months from July to March volume sales of alcohol fell 8% in the On-trade in England & Wales. Before the ban sales were falling at a steady 3%. The wet summer of 2007 has added to the downturn but Nielsen analysts estimate that just under half of the 8% decline can be attributed to the smoking ban. Data from a Nielsen survey”

    Beer and spirits sales have also suffered. In the 9 months from July to March volume sales of alcohol fell 8% in the On-trade in England & Wales. Before the ban sales were falling at a steady 3%. The wet summer of 2007 has added to the downturn but Nielsen analysts estimate that just under half of the 8% decline can be attributed to the smoking ban. Data from a Nielsen survey”

  19. Martin Says:

    You’re quite the monomaniac, aren’t you Dave?

    Links about ‘pubs’ closing, but nothing about new establishments opening. My point about cafe bar-style establishments has been made several times now and you keep conveniently ignoring it.

    And a link about beer and spirits sales falling, but nothing about the figures on wine or other female-orientated beverages. Hmmm.

  20. Dave Atherton Says:


    Share price of pubcos. You will see how they peaked in June 2007 and plunged post ban.

    Mitchell’s and Butlers 1/7/07 900p. 25/5/11 318p

    Punch Taverns 1/7/07 1400p 25/5/11 72.05p

  21. Dave Atherton Says:

    Prior to the ban Wetherspoons in 2005 banned smoking in new pubs they opened, this was the result.

    “JD Wetherspoon has called time on a bold experiment to extend its smoking ban beyond 49 of its pubs after the company faced plunging alcohol and slot machine revenues and a backlash from increasingly disgruntled regular customers.

    Profits from 37 pubs that were converted to non-smoking dropped by 20% for the three months to January 22 (new pubs are automatically designated non-smoking). Revenues dropped 7.6% with alcohol sales believed to have declined by 17% and fruit machine earnings down by about a quarter. Lower margin food sales grew by about 10% and now represent about 39% of the sales mix at the non-smoking pubs.”

  22. Dave Atherton Says:


    Case proved?

  23. Dave Atherton Says:

    The BBPA figures are net figures. It caters for new pubs that open as well as ones that close.

    Also the pubcos also ‘churn’ their pubs. One tenant goes bankrupt and another puts their money into it, disguising real closures.

    95% of drinks licenses are held by supermarkets and hotels. I can’t get my hands from the Office of National Statistics for the year on year breakdown….yet. Also this maybe skewed as pubs may close but the landlord may not inform the local council or the BBPA.

    Want to see monomania? Ask me about passive smoking.

  24. Martin Says:

    Want to see monomania? Ask me about passive smoking.

    And with two simple sentences, you reveal your agenda.

    You’re not an honest broker.

  25. Martin Says:

    And another thing – why the fuck is this article tagged as “Personal Freedom”?

    Liberalism is about permitting individuals freedom as long as it isn’t at the detriment or expense of others.

    Weak-willed individuals who can’t control their addictions aren’t being ‘liberal’ in wanting to impose additional laundering costs and health risks on others.

    If anything, it’s more to do with liberalism’s bastard offspring Libertarianism – a philosophy that is best summed up as ‘me me me me me’.

  26. Dave Atherton Says:


    No one likes a sore loser who cannot offer one shred of evidence.

  27. Dave Atherton Says:


    PS I assume you are just back from the pub some illogical, un-empirical evidence is being replaced with drunken insults. So in effect I am on the end of a bit of passive drinking. As the the Royal College Of Physicians wrote in 2008.

    The ‘passive effects’ of alcohol misuse are catastrophic – rape, sexual assault, domestic and other violence, drunk driving and street disorder – alcohol affects thousands more innocent victims than passive smoking.”

    Obviously far worse than smokers.