Greenwich Council should follow its neighbouring boroughs in offering special support for pubs and clubs to get through the pandemic, a Conservative councillor says.
Independent pubs in Bexley have been able to get up to £14,000 over four months to help them through the winter lockdown closures. A similar scheme has operated in Bromley, offering grants of up to £10,500.
But while pubs in Greenwich have been able to access general support available to all businesses, no scheme has been set up to specifically help them. The money comes from the government, but councils have the freedom to decide who is eligible.
Pubs have been closed to customers since December, and have been unable to even offer alcohol for takeaway since the most recent lockdown began five weeks ago. “Wet-led” pubs – ones which do not serve hot food – have been hit the hardest, with earlier restrictions only allowing alcohol to be served with meals.
An Eltham micropub, the Long Pond, has been delivering mini-casks to customers, while Greenwich’s Pelton Arms is delivering pints from a converted black cab. But most are having to sit out the pandemic restrictions.
“Both wet and non-wet pubs within the Royal Borough of Greenwich face increasingly precarious futures due to the impact of national lockdowns and the uncertainty of the pandemic,” said Charlie Davis, Conservative councillor for Eltham North – which covers the Long Pond – in a letter to the council’s deputy leader, Denise Scott-McDonald.
“Our pubs, bars, sports and social clubs have been continuously hit hard, but have risen to the challenge each time,” he said.
“These venues offer more than just a place to drink however, many of our local pubs are valuable assets at the heart of communities across Greenwich.
“The pandemic has also hit local grassroots sports clubs, many of whom often rely on matchday income to survive. From my own experience playing sport for teams within the borough, these clubs bring together residents of all ages and offer an important outlet to improve both physical and mental health.”
Davis added: “it is imperative that we are able to offer our pubs, bars and social clubs additional support to ensure that as restrictions begin to slowly ease they are still there to provide a hub for communities across our borough.”
Scott-McDonald told 853 that the council had already offered grants under the government scheme to a variety of businesses.
“The council recognises that it is an extremely challenging time for pubs, bars and social clubs and that the impact of the pandemic upon these businesses and the wider hospitality sector is vast,” she said.
“Businesses required to close and are on our non-domestic ratings list will have already received over £9 million in grant support at similar levels, that is up to £15,000.
“The set of businesses the council has already awarded grants to includes pubs, social clubs and bars. We are always open to feedback and we are currently consulting with businesses through the South East London Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses and Visit Greenwich to understand what additional support is needed for key sectors in order to assist during this time, as well as when restrictions ease and the economy starts to recover.”
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