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Former Bake Off winner in bid to save village pubs from ‘astronomical’ beer tax

Candice Brown runs The Green Man pub in Eversholt, Bedfordshire, with her brother Ben.

Publican Candice Brown delivers a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for a cut in beer duty (Matt Crossick/PA)
Publican Candice Brown delivers a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for a cut in beer duty (Matt Crossick/PA)

By Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter

Candice Brown has called on the Government to protect the “lifeline” of local pubs by cutting “astronomical” levels of beer tax.

The Great British Bake Off winner-turned-publican delivered a petition signed by more than 200,000 people to 10 Downing Street on Thursday.

Brown, who won Bake Off in 2016, owns The Green Man pub in Eversholt, Bedfordshire, with her brother Ben, where she pulls pints, changes beer barrels and bakes puddings.

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Candice Brown is joined by five other publicans outside 10 Downing Street (Matt Crossick/PA)

Alongside five other publicans from across the UK, she delivered the Long Live The Local​ petition to the Prime Minister’s front door, asking the Government to cut beer duty by 2%.

She told the PA news agency that the “worst case scenario” if things did not improve would be for all village pubs to close their doors.

Brown, a former PE teacher, said financial constraints such as beer duty, business rates and VAT were behind the shrinking number of pubs nationwide.

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Candice Brown won Bake Off in 2016 (Matt Crossick/PA)

She told PA: “They are a lot more than just a place where you can get drunk. They are the centre of community. They are the hub of the village.

“It’s where children are able, for us, to run around the apple trees and pick brambles and things like that.

“We need to look after them. We need to protect them because once they are gone they are gone. The beer duty is just astronomical.

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Candice Brown serves customers at her pub (Doug Peters/PA)

“It’s 11 times higher than Spain and Germany, and those financial constraints are meaning that three pubs a day are shutting.

“You can’t argue with those figures. That for some people is the only thing they have in the village. For us, we don’t even have a shop. It’s a pub, a church and a lido, of all things.”

The campaign, backed by Britain’s Beer Alliance, also celebrates the positive role pubs play in communities. It has so far been signed by 208,986 people.

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Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Brown added: “For maybe elderly residents in villages that don’t often get to go out much, that might be their lifeline. It might be their link to conversing and meeting other people.”

She added: “When you look at high streets and big city centres, there is a pub every few doors along the high street, which are all run by big chains.

“They can afford to plough money in and refurb and things like that.

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Former Bake Off judge Mary Berry with Candice Brown after her win (Mark Bourdillon/BBC/PA)

“But independent village pubs like our own, they are funded by us and we rely on the locals and that means having some sort of faith and reliance on the Government not to hike the prices up, which just puts so much of a financial constraint on small independent businesses.

“That has a knock-on effect to locals, local suppliers, local producers, and that is why pubs are shutting.”

Brown hopes the Government will make the change during the Autumn Budget on November 6.

PA

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