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Success for rural pubs initiative

Bluebell Desford pub support
Deputy county council leader, Blake Pain, with Michael Cosgrove, owner of the Bluebell Inn in Desford, one of the first pubs to receive £1,000, and Peter Bedford, county councillor for Desford

An innovative scheme supporting struggling rural pubs in Leicestershire with a one-off cash payment has already seen 180 applications.

Leicestershire County Council offered £1,000 to small village pubs which have been unable to open their doors during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The payments have proved a welcome boost and since the initiative was launched on December 18, 180 landlords have applied.

Many of those applications have already been given the go-ahead, with cheques being sent out to over 90 premises so far.

The scheme aims to keep people in jobs, maintain the role of the pub as a community hub and help them to diversify by providing extra services for residents.

I am delighted that so many landlords have come forward and we have been able to help these rural pubs which are vital hubs for villages.

We know that the hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic and we felt it was important that they received our help. These remain difficult times and we will continue to offer support to our communities and small businesses.

Martin Wilson, who has been landlord at The Plough Inn at Stathern for 13 years, said: “This funding scheme is vital for us so we can eventually open our doors, continue to trade and to support our community that we consider to be our family.

“We host a number of societies including the British Legion, Horticultural and WI to name a few.

“The Plough Inn has continued to support the community by providing takeaways throughout all lockdowns and delivering to the elderly so they have some hot food. Through this scheme we can also continue to provide this service which we consider vital to our surrounding community.”

 Paul Robinson, who owns The Sugar Loaf in Ab Kettleby, said: “We are so grateful for our payment from Leicestershire County Council. Our main priority through the pandemic has been to make sure our customers were safe, we never took part in the ‘eat out to help out' scheme so we could provide a safe environment for our customers without being overrun. So this grant has helped us with what we lost. A village pub is a community hub.”

The scheme is backed by major trade body, the British Beer and Pub Association, which represents around 20,000 of the country’s pubs.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “I applaud Leicester County Council for delivering their additional financial support for rural pubs at such speed. Rest assured their innovative approach has provided a vital lifeline to local pubs who have been hanging by a thread. Other county councils and the Government should follow the leadership displayed by Leicester County Council in saving our pubs.”

During the pandemic, the council has also:

•   Given over half-a-million-pounds of Government funding to food banks and community groups – Leicestershire’s slice of the £63m from Defra.
•   Launched a £2.1m fund to support communities – a hospice, a homelessness service and a charity supporting young, older and vulnerable people are just three of those awarded money.
•   Established a £750,000 fund supporting small businesses to get back on their feet.

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