A BREWERY has been criticised for trying to sell two popular local pubs and stop them from reopening.

Blackburn-based Daniel Thwaites is selling the Gibraltar Hotel, in Gibraltar Street, and the Sportsmans Arms, in Shear Brow, with covenants that would prevent them reopening as pubs in the near future.

The practice has been criticised by a House of Commons report and the chairman of East Lancashire’s CAMRA branch, John Ingham, says the move will not benefit local drinkers.

He said: “It is a purely commercial move. It is designed to help other Thwaites pubs in the vicinity by increasing their profits.

“Thwaites has a huge concentration of pubs in East Lancashire but we don’t want to see good locals closed down for no reason when many of them are still perfectly viable.

“If Thwaites can’t make a success of the pub then we would rather someone else is given the chance to do so.

“Closing excellent locals benefits nobody apart from pubs down the road.”

The House of Commons Business and Enterprise Select Committee recently criticised the pub trade for the practice of selling pubs with restrictive covenants that prevented them from reopening, and suggested it may be against competition rules. Both the pubs were regular stops on the Revidge Run pub crawl, an annual event that attracted a large section of the community round the local establishments.

CAMRA’s Mike Kershaw said: “Both the Gibraltar and the Sportsmans Arms are viable as pubs and it is a pernicious practice for Thwaites to try and sell these pubs with restrictive covenants meaning that they can not operate as pubs again in the near future.”

Yesterday no one from Thwaites was available for comment.

The move comes as Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans continues his campaign to save the future of local pubs, saying supermarket price cuts and increased taxes were in danger of killing off the community pub.