Wales Election 2016

Welsh Conservatives pledge to revive ailing pub industry

Andrew RT Davies at a brewery
Image caption Andrew RT Davies samples the beer at a Barry brewery

Proposals to reverse the decline in the number of pubs have been set out by the Welsh Conservative leader.

An average of 11 pubs in Wales are closing each week, according to the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

Andrew RT Davies said his party would cut business rates and give local communities the right to bid to takeover closure-threatened pubs if it wins power in May's assembly election.

He said the moves would save jobs in an industry that was a major employer.

Mr Davies visited a brewery in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, to promote the plans on Thursday.

In December 2015, the Labour Welsh Government Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths said there was cross-party support for a scheme allowing local groups to bid for land or buildings "judged to enhance a community's social wellbeing or social interests".

A so-called right to bid system already exists in England.

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Mr Davies said: "In failing to embrace the right to bid, Labour is not only ignoring the plight of Welsh pubs but hastening their decline by failing to reform business taxes, which Welsh Conservatives want to cut.

"A Welsh Conservative government would cut business rates and empower Welsh communities to protect jobs and enable local people to have a say on how their local assets are managed."

A Welsh Labour spokesman said it would cut tax for small businesses and work with local communities to "protect pubs and introduce measures to help prevent unnecessary closures and to assist communities to take ownership of community assets themselves where possible and appropriate".

'Vigour'

Liberal Democrat Peter Black said: "For the sake of strong and diverse communities, Wales needs its own right to bid - and Welsh Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure it is put in place."

A Plaid Cymru spokeswoman said the party would cut business rates for 80% of businesses "scrapping rates altogether for 70,000 businesses and extending rate relief for an additional 20,000" and it backed the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing that would "secure a more level playing field for our local pubs".

A UKIP spokeswoman said the party had "done more than any other party in the fight for independent brewing and pub tenancy" and would "continue our campaign for the great British pub inside the Welsh Assembly with vigour".

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