Tooting pubs raise a glass to beer cuts but insist problems lie much deeper


Planning regulations cause problems for many establishments.


By Ciara Farmer, Koel Mukherjee and Jack Skelton 

Tooting pub operators and supporters have welcomed the cut to beer duty included in this week’s Budget but highlight the larger problems facing their establishments.

Alongside the 1p per pint reduction, Chancellor George Osborne also announced a freeze on spirits duty and scrapped the alcohol duty escalator.

Thomas Finnegan, Manager of Tooting Tram & Social, sees the decision as a positive move that allows his pub to lower prices.

“It helps us compete with the big supermarkets, like the Sainsbury’s across the road,” he added.

The benefits of this change have also been noted by Max Alderman, Operations Director at Antic London, which run several pubs in the city.

“However, ultimately a 1p a pint does not make a huge amount of difference,” he added.

Instead he is more concerned about the different approaches to planning regulations in individual boroughs, which can cause problems for pubs.

These difficulties continue to affect The Wheatsheaf, a beloved Tooting pub run by Antic.

The ongoing campaign to prevent the site from being sold to commercial ventures is being championed by Tooting MP Sadiq Khan.

“The biggest threat to The Wheatsheaf is not the cost of beer duty – it is government legislation and council policy which do not provide sufficient protection against developers,” said Mr Khan.

He encourages local residents to help put an Article 4 direction in place, which would withdraw permitted development rights affecting The Wheatsheaf, by responding to a public consultation until April 3.

In reflection Mr Alderman said: “Pubs live or die on their own merit.”

Despite the welcome reception to Mr Osborne’s changes, Tooting’s pub industry hopes to see further action to secure their future.

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