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Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted will Speak in the Lords on Monday asking for Further Help for Pubs.

July 5, 2020 11:07 PM
Sharon Bowles HS

Sharon Bowles

Sharon Bowles, who is part of the Liberal Democrat Group of the House of Lords, intends to speak on Monday on the second reading of the Business and Planning Bill requesting several changes to the bill so that it becomes more effective in helping the hard-pressed hospitality sector.

Baroness Bowles is not one to shirk research in preparation for a speech and in order to assess our local situation and to view premises at first hand managed over the last few days to visit nearly every pub in Berkhamsted, Northchurch and Potten End.

Owners and managers of pubs are very grateful for the provision in the bill to fast-track pavement licensing. However she discovered that this provision by itself actually benefits very few pubs. Relatively few front onto pavements that are wide enough to accomodate tables and chairs, especially as the pavements will have to be used anyway for social distancing for people coming in.

Of course many pubs already have defined outside areas to which their existing licences apply. Others, however, do not - and even those that do are likely to need increased space at the present time. The problem is that those that could use and benefit from extra licensed space (e.g. they might find it helpful to put some tables and chairs in, say a car park at the back), cannot legally do so without getting their licence specifically extended for that purpose.

Sharon's simple suggestion is that the bill could be amended so that more licence variations to generate extra space for socially distanced customers could also be fast-tracked - not just for pavements. This temporary help could then cover any suitable areas under the pub's control, and so be much more useful.

She hopes this amendment, which has cross-party support will pass in the Lords and be accepted by the Commons.

We wish her and her fellow peers good cheer with this one!