Parliament is in Recess at the moment for the Party Conference season, and I am making the most of not having to spend four days a week in London by catching up on many visits and meetings in the constituency.
I have written before about my mission to visit every school in Brentwood and Ongar, and I am making good progress with it so far. I’m also looking forward to meeting all the Scouts, Guides, National Citizen Service groups and other youth organisations - as well as the Women’s Institutes too. I’ve also taken the selfless step of setting aside time in my schedule to spend more time in Brentwood’s pubs.
This week I’ve been to a fundraiser at the Eagle on Ongar Road, a road which boasts some excellent public houses. And I’ve been lucky enough to recently enjoy the Spread Eagle in Brentwood, the Chequers in Matching Green and the Cock in Ongar in the very recent past. Indeed head in any direction from Brentwood or Ongar and it will not a long before you stumble across a fine pub, usually serving excellent food.
There is no doubt that we have lost good pubs, seeing them replaced by flats, houses and supermarkets. Fortunately, the Government’s Asset of Community Value scheme now enables communities to list facilities of local importance, including pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding in order to try to save it.
On top of this, the Government continues to support the work of the Pub is The Hub initiative to help landlords diversify and provide essential services, such as village shops and post offices, in order to improve the sustainability of their pub.
But ultimately the best way to sustain your local pub is to pop in and have a pint - you’ve been helped by last year’s Autumn Budget freeze on all alcohol duties for 2018. Our pubs are here to stay, and I will continue my support of those in Brentwood and Ongar.