Landlord’s drive to save industry

Landlord Mark Witherington of the Bull at Gristhorpe.
Landlord Mark Witherington of the Bull at Gristhorpe.
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A GRISTHORPE landlord has launched a campaign to save the pub industry from potential collapse.

Mark Witherington, who runs the Bull Inn, in Main Street, has backed a national drive to lower VAT to five percent and give the hospitality trade a vital lift.

The campaign is appealing for 100,000 people to sign up to an online petition and force the Government to debate the issue in the House of Commons.

Mr Witherington, who runs the pub alongside wife Tracy and daughter Leah, said the reduction would be pivotal in revitalising the economy, as the pub industry gears up for another potentially long and hard winter period.

He cited France, which lowered tax from 19.65 per cent to five cent, creating 21,700 jobs, as an example of how the change could prove beneficial for the country and, in turn, the local industry.

He said: “There are pubs shutting left, right and centre.

“It would be massive if we could get this change, we have had a steady season but that extra two-and-a-half percent is something that we have definitely felt.

“It is going to be a hard winter for everyone in the pub trade and I want to do my bit for North Yorkshire and bring some stability to the industry.

“Now that the summer is over and the tourists have gone, this is the time when the pub trade will feel it.

“If the VAT was changed it would allow for more people to go out on an evening who may not be able to do so at the moment.”

The rallying call has been reiterated by bosses from the Campaign for Real Ale.

Jonathan Mail, the group’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “It would be great for employment and lead to a cultural shift with more people going out, helping to build communities.

“I think pubs would clearly benefit and this campaign has an added benefit of dealing with the gap between alcohol prices in pubs and supermarkets.”

Anyone who wants to back the campaign by signing the online petition, should log on to http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1198