The Government's new mandatory code on drinks promotions, unveiled in today's Queen's Speech, could condemn more pubs to closure, industry leaders have warned.
The pub trade gave a cautious welcome to Government plans to move away from a blanket ban on happy hours as feared and to clamp down on irresponsible drink promotions, which includes supermarkets.
But industry leaders pointed out that other proposals would impose an unnecessary, disproportionate and costly red-tape burden on well run community pubs
Rob Hayward, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "Small businesses, such as community pubs are groaning under the strain of the economic recession. Pubs are closing at the record rate of five a day and more than 40,000 jobs have already been lost.
Urging the Government to work more closely with the pub industry, Hayward added: "This is no time to be looking for new ways to increase red-tape costs and burdens, placing ever more pubs and jobs in jeopardy."
Nick Bish, chief executive of the - Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), agreed and said there remained a need for clarity in the Government proposals.
"The Government may talk about banning promotions specific to women, but how would you legislate for that without excluding other groups? What about pensioners, for example? Similarly the proposal that staff are 'properly' trained is one which needs much more clarity," he said.
There was also anger over plans to give local authorities the right to increase business rates.
John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: "Now is not the time to bring in new powers to raise tax more widely from business.
"The CBI wants, at the very least, for firms to be able to vote on every proposed local business rates supplement, so firms aren't saddled with a potential £1bn annual tax increase without a proper say in the process."
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By Chris Druce
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