The Liberal Democrats have committed to introducing a right for pub tenants to buy the freehold of their venue if it’s put up for sale at an independently assessed market value.
The party also said it would change the planning system so no pub is given change of use or permission to demolish without it being offered at a “fair market price” and properly advertised for sale for at least six months.
In addition, the Liberal Democrats supported proposals for enshrining into law the principal that tied tenants should not be worse off than their free-of-tie counterparts, as part of its support for reforms proposed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The party approved the policies at its Spring conference in York at the weekend under a motion called A Better More Sustainable future for British pubs.
Greg Mulholland MP, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group and represents Leeds North West, said: “I am delighted that the Liberal Democrats have now adopted as policy the need to give a fair deal to pubco licensees through a market rent only option, backing the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign.
“The unregulated leased pubco model has been a disaster for the valued national institution and community facility that is the pub and one that Liberal Democrats in Government must now deal with, in the same way that disgraceful behaviour in the banking sector has been dealt with.
“This vote today should give Vince Cable additional confidence to introduce this in the forthcoming statutory code of practice for the pubcos and would represent a huge positive move in terms of stopping exploitation and saving many valued pubs.
“I am also delighted that the party has adopted key policies to give pubs more protection in planning law. Despite the welcome but limited powers given to communities to register assets of community value, pubs can still be sold and closed, including being turned into supermarkets and betting shops, without this even needing planning permission. That is simply barmy and some simple, commonsensical changes to the planning system would give thousands of the pubs the protection they need and stop the unethical collusion between indebted pubcos and supermarkets.
“Today the Liberal Democrats have firmly positioned themselves as the pro pub party in Britain and I hope that this will encourage more action from the Coalition Government over the coming year and also send a clear message to licensees, pub goers and communities that the Liberal Democrats are serious about standing up for the Great British pub.”