CAMRA Durham have now had first meetings with the last 2 of the MPs representing constituencies within our Branch area.
The Branch met with Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield on Friday 19th March 2021. This was the fifth in our series of meetings with local politicians. The discussion was wide-ranging, reflecting the concerns of the branch, as captured through our meetings, liaison with brewers and extensive contacts with members and publicans.
We particularly focussed on support for pubs, clubs, and brewers as we emerge from our public health restrictions into what we hope will be a strong summer of recovery. We are concerned that grants, furlough, and business rates arrangements are just not enough for the scale of the challenge. Paul broadly agreed and wants to be supportive of these aims, through speaking up in the Commons and working with other local MPs to make the case. Changes to the Small Brewers Relief also featured strongly, with a detailed discussion resulting in Paul saying he would work with Dehenna Davison and Kevan Jones to help us to communicate opposition to the proposed changes to the Treasury.
We left with a clear sense that Paul is engaged with and cares about our pubs, clubs and brewers and particularly the importance of pubs as venues at the centre of communities that should be supported and protected.
On 22nd March 2021 CAMRA Durham met with Grahame Morris, MP for Easington. In a wide ranging discussion, Grahame affirmed his support for pubs, clubs and breweries, based on his life-long immersion in the culture of the north east. He has been an active supporter of pubs and clubs in his constituency and is currently active on the question of Small Brewers’ Relief, specifically in relation to supporting Castle Eden Brewery.
The branch told Grahame about our concerns in relation to support for pubs and clubs, Small Brewers’ Relief, pubcos and their dubious practices, reopening after public health restrictions and public transport. Grahame has agreed to join other local MPs in penning a letter in relation to Small Brewers’ Relief and to join efforts to liaise with the Durham County Council, as well as putting down an Early Day Motion to express concerns for pubs, clubs and breweries which are central to our County Durham culture.
The Branch look forward to working with Grahame, including during our celebration of ale, pubs, cider and clubs later in the year.
We will continue to work with all 6 of our local MPs and look forward to hearing them representing the industry and the area in Parliament and hope to be able to report on these activities going forward. The Branch is now turning its attention to Durham County Council and we currently have a meeting scheduled with Councillor Carl Marshall, Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration, in mid-April. The Bramch also hopes to be be able to arrange meetings with relevant Council Officers.