Traditional Southwark pubs slam Government’s ‘disgusting’ £1,000 payment offer

Josh Salisbury (02 December, 2020)

“All the shops are open 24 hours, so why can’t we open?" said one Bermondsey publican

1056The Ancient Foresters pub in Southwark Park Road.

Traditional Southwark boozers have slammed the government’s payment of £1,000 as too little, too late.

Under the new rules since Wednesday, pubs are only allowed to serve alcohol with a “substantial meal.”

But many traditional Southwark boozers do not have kitchens or don’t ordinarily serve food.

For those pubs which are still forced to close, the government has offered a one-off payment of £1,000.

“It’s better than nothing, but it’s not good enough. It’s not even going to cover a week’s costs” said Sandra Smith, the landlady of Bermondsey’s Ancient Foresters.

“It’s not touching anything we have lost.” While most other premises are now open – including all shops – these pubs have no clear idea of when they can reopen.

“It’s disgusting,” she added. “We have lost thousands and thousands. A lot of people just won’t open up again.

“All the shops are open 24 hours, so why can’t we? Everything is cleaned in a pub, you get a clean glass, everyone wears masks.

“But if you go to a supermarket, everyone’s not wearing a mask, and they’re touching everything. But they’re saying pubs are the ones causing it?”

While some ‘wet’ pubs have attempted to branch out into food to stay open under Tier Two rules, this is not an option for the Ancient Foresters. “Our brewery won’t supply us beer because we don’t have a kitchen,” Sandra said.

Ciaran Canavan, who runs Whelan’s on Rotherhithe New Road, also said the payment simply was not enough.

“The government says it will give me £1,000 but the amount of beer I’ve wasted since [lockdown] comes to at least five times that,” he said.

“For the little man that’s trying to make a living, they are doing nothing. It’s nothing to what we have lost.

“I’ve got no staff. Now it’s just me and a friend who’s helping out.”

Instead, the landlord is branching out into food in a bid to stay open, as it is the only way his business can stay afloat.

Mr Canavan was forced to shut his premises in Peckham, Canavan’s Pool Club on Rye Lane earlier this year.

A combination of difficulties caused by lockdown and road closures forced him to shut up shop there permanently, he said.

Now he says he is being chased for rent money by the owner of the building. “They’re asking for six months rent,” he said. “But there’s no way I can pay them the money they’re asking for.

“So it’s a case of going to court and letting a judge decide.”

It comes after Boris Johnson told MPs the government was doing everything it could to support hospitality.

“We will do everything in our power to support our hospitality sector throughout this crisis,” he told MPs on Tuesday.

“Today we’re going further with a one-off payment of £1,000, in December, to wet pubs – that’s pubs that do not serve food.”

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Mark says:

Things aren’t going back to the way they were. Shame the boozers had 8 months to try something new but squandered it thinking a Tory govt would bail them out. Rides not over, the double-barrel Brexit roll will be a corker.

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