The Branch has recently had a further 2 meetings with our local MPs to talk to them about the difficulties facing the pub, club and brewing industries.
On Friday 26th February CAMRA Durham met Mary Foy, MP for Durham City. The discussion was both in depth and constructive as Mary and her team sought to understand the issues in greater depth, drawing from the expertise and experience of those who had volunteered their time to meet her. The agenda placed particular importance on the social value of pubs, the importance of securing realistic financial support for pubs, clubs and brewers and looking to the future, in particular changes to Small Brewers Relief.
This first step in our engagement with Mary was a positive one, opening a conversation that, when added to contacts with other MPs and councillors, will result in the things we care about being better represented nationally and locally, for the benefit of our region.
On March 5th Committee members, brewers, and a publican met with Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland. The meeting agenda included Small Brewer’s Relief (SBR), financial support for pubs/clubs/breweries, public transport, pubs and clubs as key social venues, reducing VAT for alcohol sold on licensed premises and recovery of the sector this year and next. The discussion was in-depth and constructive, revealing Dehenna’s long-standing interest in pubs and associated businesses, as well as providing space for concerns, particularly in relation to the recent budget, to be explored. We agreed to make this the first part of an ongoing conversation, and to have immediate actions in relation to SBR, and County Council support. The Branch thank Dehenna for her time and energy on a Friday tea time and we look forward to future joint working.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 19th March with Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield and we will report on that meeting shortly after. We are still trying to arrange a meeting with Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, after which we will have had initial meetings with all 6 of the MPs in the Branch area. We look forward to continued dialogue with the local MPs and we also hope to start involving Members and Officers from Durham County Council in the near future.