Newham councillors want more powers to control pub closures

Councillor Unmesh Desai, executive member for crime and anti-social behaviour and councillor Ian Cor

Councillor Unmesh Desai, executive member for crime and anti-social behaviour and councillor Ian Corbett, executive member for the environment and infrastructure outside the Earl of Wakefield pub in Katherine Road, East Ham which closed recently - Credit: Archant

Newham Council is to put pressure on the Government for more powers that could prevent the closure of pubs.

Councillors agreed a motion at a meeting of the full council recently calling on Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to change planning rules under the Sustainable Communities Act, which will mean any proposed conversion or demolition of a pub, must be first considered by councillors and residents.

Current planning laws dictate that pubs can be turned into fast food takeaways, betting shops, supermarkets or pay day loan companies without planning permission, allowing for a pub to change use within a short space of time. There is also no requirement for the owners of pubs or the firms moving in to consult with the local community.

Councillor Ian Corbett, executive member for infrastructure and environment, proposed that the council supports the Campaign for Real Ale and campaign group Local Works in making sure both planning permission and community consultation are required before any pub is converted.

He said: “It is only right that residents and the council have a chance to determine if pubs should close down or not. We can’t go back to the old days when there were pubs on every corner, but where there are pubs it means alcohol is being drunk responsibly rather than on the streets where people have been able to go into shops that sell alcohol and buy unlimited supplies.”

Backing the motion, Mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “Pubs can and do make up the fabric of our streets. We should be in control of our high streets. We should not be losing control of assets that are important to us. The community should have a say when a pub closes on what it reopens as.”