Tag Archives: Local economies

The Government’s decision to implement a breathtaking 7.2% increase in beer duty is outrageous

Community pubs like the royal oak in bath may be a thing of the past if the beer tax continues to rise

The Government’s decision to implement a breathtaking 7.2% increase in beer duty is outrageous. This takes the average duty and VAT on a pint in a local pub to over £1. We now have the second highest rate of beer tax in Europe! It is simply not acceptable. The “beer escalator” commits the Government to increasing beer tax above inflation and to the wrong policy path.

Take Bath as a case in point, nearly 2,000 people depend on Beer and pubs for work and the industry contributes over £22.7 million to the local economy every year. If it continues to shrink in the manner it currently is, local economies such as Bath’s will be severely hit. At a time of recession, this tax seems to be the opposite of what the struggling industry needs.

Equally, this extra tax will do nothing to stop the irresponsible drinker but do everything to hit the responsible pub goer. It will add on 10p to every pint in the pub, while the Government’s much talked about minimum pricing of alcohol will cap supermarket booze at a price that wouldn’t deter the stingiest of consumers. It is ludicrous to allow cheap supermarket booze, whilst taxing pub goers “for health reasons” at the same time. These measures penalise the majority of responsible pub goers whilst failing to tackle the heart of the problem which remains the question of why people consume such vast amounts of alcohol (often at home not in pubs).

At a time when 37 pubs are closing down every week in the UK, we need to be supporting these centres of our community, not putting them out of business. Where do Cameron and Osborne expect the big society to meet…the local Scout hut?

SIBA chairman Keith Bott said, “This is a real kick in the teeth to the local brewing sector, one of the few British success stories of recent years. Local brewers are just the kind of business this government says it wants to see prosper: they create jobs for local people and contribute to the local and wider British economy by using home-grown ingredients. Yet the current beer taxation regime is killing off our main route to market – the British pub.”

He continued, “The Treasury claimed before the Budget that their beer duty escalator is ‘baked in’. We say it is half baked! Continuing to increase taxes on draught beer, drunk in the socially responsible environment of the pub, will serve only to increase purchases of cheap vodka for unsupervised home consumption. We fail to see how this policy can help tackle binge drinking.”

The Government’s claim to being a “pub friendly government” seems to be slipping further and further out of sight.

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Filed under Beer, Economics, Health, Politics

This month I will be mostly eating…

Parsnips - best eaten in late winter! Photo thanks to K.sawyer (flickr)

It’s that time of the month again.  The time when all you excited readers gets to hear what and what not to eat! It’s that ethical fruit and veg fashion show where you get the low-down on the latest in season fruit and veg.  This month however, I am adding a little extra.  I thought I would give you an overview of one truly great vegetable (a little history and a little how to use it).  I hope you enjoy.

Try eating:

Beetroot, Brussels sprouts, Carrots, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Rocket, Swede and Turnips.

For your fruit salad:

Apples and Pears!

Of course, if you want that chunk of animal:

Chicken, pork, rabbit and Turkey

This month though I want to get you to try a personal favourite of mine: The Parsnip!

This vegetable, I think is fantastic; the sweet taste you get when you roast it is incredible.  They can last for two – three weeks in the bottom of your fridge (which means you don’t have to make emergency “stews” to use up all the mouldy veg in the bottom of your fridge).  

To Buy:

Look for solid and dry parsnips.  I have found that the larger they get, the tougher they are (and can have bad cores).

Preparing and Cooking:

Wash and peel them and then slice as you wish (easy).  Avoid boiling parsnips (ends up losing all their flavour).  I really recommend roasting them (about 20 minutes at 180).  They are fantastic with Roast dinners, in soups, or simply roasted and seasoned to be eaten with Pasta.

If you ever have too many, slice them paper-thin and fry in season olive oil for a lovely crisp like snack!

Want to know more about Parsnips (slightly odd but hey)…check out:


Bon appétit!

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Filed under Food and Drink

This month I will be mostly eating…

A lovely bunch of Carrots - Thanks to color line (flickr)

This is a new “feature” on this blog.  I will try at least monthly, to provide you with a list of “in-season” foods that are available to buy.  In an era when we are increasingly disconnected with our food supplies we can easily become confused about what we should be eating when (and when different foods taste the best). 

Eating seasonally can:

  • help support local economies
  • reduce your indirect CO2 footprint
  • be cheaper

It also tackles that incredibly silly thing of eating things from the other side of the world.  I am not saying it is the most important issue out there, but “every little helps”!

So this month I will be mostly be eating…

Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Carrots, Celeriac, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Radish, Rocket, Swede and Turnips.

For my Fruit salads:

Apples, Clementine’s and pears

To make things taste lovely:

Almonds, Brazil nuts, Chives, Coriander, and Parsley

On that rare occasion when you want a good chunk of meat:

Beef, chicken, duck, goose, pork and rabbit. 

Bon appétit!

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The Real Green New Deal

At the moment every other political announcement seems to have the word “green” in it.  It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between progressive policies and simple greenwash.

What I recommend is to read the “Real” Green New Deal, put together by a collection of highly respected individuals including, Colin Hines, Tony Juniper and Andrew Simms (plus many more).  It highlights how we need to tackle climate change in conjunction with the economic crisis and peak oil.  It is the first piece of social policy that I have read for a very long time to actually excite me. 

It is from this document that I think you can begin to judge other political parties green commitments in the run-up to the next election.

It is downloadable from:


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Filed under Climate Change

Gloucestershire Ale Trail

For those of you who have expressed an interest. I would like to draw your attention to the Gloucestershire Ale Trail web-site (http://www.glosaletrail.org.uk/). Apart from telling you where your nearest micro-brewery is, it also tells you where you can enjoy their beers!

Or, you can check out CAMRA’s initative of locAle.  This accredits any pub that stocks beer that is brewed within a 25 mile radius. http://www.camra.org.uk/page.aspx?o=281521


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Filed under Beer, Food and Drink

The dark side of real ale

This is a matter close to my heart.  The slow death of the local pub and the real ale drinking that goes hand-in-hand with this.  In the UK around half of our 60,000 pubs are owned by just 10 operators.  This is not a healthy situation to be in.  39 pubs are closing every week!  The names of Green King and Fullers are becoming household names and yet micro-breweries are reliant on government subsidies to survive.  Meanwhile medium sized breweries such as Harvey’s in Lewes have neither the government support nor the operational capacity to compete with the giants at Green King. 

We can see from the Lewes Arms controversy how Green King is willing to put profit above consumer demand.  It is only after petitions and a strong campaign did the pub revert to stocking the local beer (Harveys).  This example however, also highlights what real grass-roots pressure can do.  If you are sick and tired of being offered the same old generic beers then do something about it!

The British beer culture (different to the drinking culture in general) is something that we should all be very proud of.  We produce some of the best quality beers in the world.  I currently have the pleasure of living in Belgian and people often ask me what I think of the beers here. The simple answer is that they often rely on crass flavours and offer none of the depth and subtlety that some English ale holds.  It is only when you don’t have something do you really miss it!

If you are like me and enjoy spending a considerable period of time (and money) in your local then choose wisely.  Follow my golden rules:

1) Choose a free house.  Green King especially is in danger of creating a monopoly over the pub industry. This has negative repercussions for the diversity of real ale that is being produced (and consumed).  If a pub has a big green sign hanging outside of it stay well away!

2) Choose a pub that stocks its beer from a local micro-brewery.  You might think this is hard to find, but increasingly micro-breweries are popping up left right and centre.  If your local free house is not stocking the local breweries then ask why!

For those of you based in Gloucestershire (my beloved shire) here are a few ideas for you to check out if you haven’t already!

  • The Woolpack in Slad (Stocks Stroud Brewery and Uley)
  • The Blackhorse in Amberley (Stroud Brewery and changing guest ales)
  • The Prince Albert in Stroud (Stroud Brewery)

For more information check out the good beer guide or the CAMRA web-site (http://www.camra.org.uk/home.aspx)


Filed under Beer, Food and Drink