AN EAST Lancashire MP is highlighting the plight of struggling pubs.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said he was backing calls to regulate the relationship between big pub companies and their tenant landlords.

Campaigners are urging the government to introduce measures so landlords can buy their beer freely on the open market rather than being contractually committed to buy pub company prices.

As the number of pubs closing per week has recently risen, he is supporting a campaign by CAMRA, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Independent Pub Confederation, the GMB and UNITE Unions, the Forum of Private Business and Fair Pint.

He said: “Many factors have an influence, but the unfair and unbalanced relationship between licensees and their landlords, the large branded pub companies or “Pub Co’s” who dominate the market, has undoubtedly played a part in this sad decline.

“Pubs are vital hubs for communities and are valued strongly by local people, but due to the government’s inaction and broken promises on backing small landlords they are closing at an ever-increasing rate.

“The number of pub closures has risen to 18 a week and more than 200 pubs have been converted to convenience stores in the last two years alone.”

Though the government has agreed to calls to implement statutory regulations, it is unclear yet what form they will take, or will include a ‘free of tie’ option regarding alcohol purchases.

Chairman of East Lancashire’s Campaign for Real Ale, John Webster, said: “We are trying to be heard by the government but it’s a long hard slog.

“The way some pub companies treat their landlords is completely appalling. Many people see signs on pubs urging them to run their own pub, but if they make a success out it, it is reviewed and the rents go up.

“Eventually they are forced out and the same sign goes up for the next candidate.

“We ask ourselves over and over again why they would put their own pubs out of business, but we are just unable to explain the shortsightedness”.