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Anger at plan for cut-price pub beer at PoundPub
PLANS to open a discount PoundPub in a new-look North-East town centre provoked outrage among campaigners and councillors last night.
The PoundPub - which promises "more round for your pound" - will sell halves of beer at £1 and pints at £1.50.
According to the Good Pub Guide, the average price of a pint in the North-East last year was £3.05 and the PoundPub’s prices are among the lowest in the region.
The company behind the plan -which will see a mid-market pub called Georgia Browns, in Stockton town centre, rebranded as a PoundPub -has ambitious plans to open others.
And it is seeking a licensing variation that will allow the new pub to sell alcohol from 8am.
Managers stressed last night that they would operate a responsible drinking policy. Patrons who have had too much will be refused.
But the concept is already causing concern among the town's councillors worried it will give the town centre - currently undergoing a £38m refurbishment - the wrong image.
Stockton borough councillor Phil Dennis, said he was also worried alcohol would be sold too cheaply.
"I am very concerned about the price point a unit of alcohol in this proposal," he said.
"This venture also cheapens the image of Stockton High Street at a time of investment that is intended to support a quality higher end night time economy with the redevelopment of the Globe Theatre.
"I have initial doubts and concerns about the ability of such a venue to control the environment where effectively we are selling at a point where the quality of clientele will likely match the price of the product on offer."
Ken Lupton, leader of the council's Tory group, said: "An individual pub with such a pricing policy would only be detrimental to the general improvement the council hopes to achieve with their significant investment in the High Street."
However, Mike Wardell, a director at Here for Your Hospitality Ltd which owns the premises, insisted that the pub would take part in responsible drinking campaigns, including challenging anyone who looked under 25 for identity.
He added that anyone drunk would not be served and pointed out that supermarkets are able to sell their own value beers at 40p a can - something which is not monitored by councils.
Mr Wardell said the PoundPub is aimed at the kind of person who would have frequented Working Men's Clubs in a previous generation and not the night-time market.
"It's an eye-catching logo and, I suppose it's a bit cheesy, but the phrase we're going for is 'get more round for your pound'.
"At a time when 12 pubs a week are closing across the country we have to think outside the box a bit."
The PoundPub is expected to open sometime over the Easter period and will have traditional pub games like darts and billiards. One other PoundPub is due to open in the Manchester area.
Alcohol campaigner Colin Shevells, director of Balance, said: "Drink is already too affordable, too available and too heavily promoted.
"We know that problems are caused by it being too cheap.
"The PoundPub is just part of a much bigger problem.
"We need to wake up to the problems cheap alcohol is causing both in the short and long term.
"We need to find a way to bring in a minimum price that doesn't penalise the moderate drinker and the good solid community pub. So many of them are closing because they can't compete and this will make it worse."
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