South Cambs MP calls on owners to cancel rent for pubs closed in lockdown

South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne. Picture: Stephen Frost

South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne. Picture: Stephen Frost - Credit: Archant

The South Cambridgeshire MP is calling on brewers and pub-owning companies to cancel rent for tenants forced to close their pubs due to the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking in support of the Cambridge and District Branch of CAMRA, Anthony Browne is asking pub-owning companies – or pubcos – across South Cambridgeshire to follow Everards, Adnams, Charles Wells, Admiral Taverns and others in cancelling rent for the time that the pubs are closed due to the shutdown.

Other landlords have deferred collection of rent and ancillary charges, culminating in thousands of pounds being owed by tenants the moment they reopen to the public.

The MP said this risks turning temporary crises into permanent closures as publicans may not be able to make up the shortfall for months of missed income – particularly for those with gardens depending on the current good weather to bring in custom – and some have been forced to consider closing permanently.

Mr Browne said: “It has never been easy to run a pub, and many villages are already left clinging to their last viable pub.

“In such an environment, it is unjust for pub-owning companies to assume their tenants will withstand a complete loss of income in circumstances beyond all their control. We are all in this together.

“It is time for those pub-owning companies still holding out to show some compassion and support their tenants, who have been keeping local pubs going and turning a profit for them for many years.

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“I’m also asking all South Cambs residents to get behind our pubs. Get online and share stories and news about your local pubs, to not only encourage pub-owning companies to step up to the plate, but to ensure our pubs remain part of our community.”

Alistair Cook, pubs officer for the Cambridge and District Branch of CAMRA, said: “Those companies who have already moved to ease pressure on publicans deserve to be praised, but others have left the sword of Damocles hanging over their tenant’s heads.

“Pubcos have claimed that the rates they charge are based on turnover. If that’s the case, then they shouldn’t be charging rent for weeks when a pub’s turnover is zero. They can’t have it both ways.”