From Welsh Icons News:
Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood has called for rules tying pubs to the large companies that own them to be relaxed to boost the burgeoning real ale market in Wales.
Ms Wood, who represents South Wales Central in the National Assembly for Wales, said allowing publicans more choice in the beer they sell would deliver a significant shot in the arm for the brewing industry in Wales.
At present, many pubs are dictated to over what beer they buy in and the price at which they sell it as a result of the strong grip large pub companies have over them. This usually leads to the pub companies selling bog-standard beer at inflated prices to the licensed premises tied to them.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has persistently urged the Office of Fair Trading to intervene in the matter, but to no avail.
During questions to the Welsh Assembly’s Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, Ms Wood said:
“Over the next fortnight, the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells will be hosting a beer festival that will showcase some of the many fantastic real ales brewed in this country.
“I am sure that everyone in the Chamber is proud of the excellent produce of our Welsh microbreweries and would agree that it should be promoted as much as possible.
“Unfortunately, however, given that many pubs are tied to large companies that dictate which beers can be bought and at what price, real ales are prevented from getting to the many keen customers out there.
“The Office of Fair Trading recently declined to intervene in the relationship between pubs and the large companies that own them. I realise that this is a non-devolved issue, but I would be grateful if you would be prepared to make representations about the unfair terms and conditions imposed on pub landlords and landladies, which are damaging to Welsh microbreweries.
“I am sure that you would agree that the case should be made for a level playing field, so that the Welsh micro brewing industry can compete properly.”
In reply, Ms Jones said: “As you said, Leanne, this is not a devolved issue, but, if I recall correctly, it was a recommendation of the Rural Development Sub-committee’s report that the Government look at tied pubs and make representations.
“The Office of Fair Trading report came out after the debate on the sub-committee’s report in the Assembly, and I may well be asked to pursue this issue after my meeting with the cross-party group.
“It is clear that consumers and visitors alike want to sample local food and drink when they go to any establishment in Wales. All the consumer evidence shows that. It is a shame that that is not allowed in some pubs and other establishments in Wales.
“I would want to see a way of trying to pursue this issue with the UK Government and with pubs and pub owners in Wales.”