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Council approves £1k boost for Slough pubs

A boost for boozers in the borough was approved by councillors at a Slough Borough Council (SBC) cabinet meeting yesterday (Monday).

 Meeting at St Martins Place, SBC's Bath Road headquarters, members gave the go ahead to a new discretionary rate relief policy for pubs.

The new policy is based on guidelines set out in the government's spring statement in March.

The guidelines show how local authorities can give £1,000 in this current financial year to each watering-hole with a rateable value of below £100,000.

Chancellor Philip Hammond originally announced the move as a form of business rate relief.

The £1,000 grants given out by SBC will be reimbursed by the government and so will not cost the council any more money.

The funding will be based on the Government's own definition of what a pub is and will exclude nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, music venues and places like working men's clubs.

After the meeting, The Express spoke to pub campaigns co-ordinator for Campaign for Real Ale's Slough Windsor and Maidenhead branch, Alan Molloy.

He said: "£1,000 is better than nothing I suppose, how will it affect pubs? Well it's a good question.

"They're probably paying that or perhaps more for Sky Sports. It might stop a pub that's on the brink from closing."

He said the problem lies in how business rates are set for pubs, calling for them to be set on profit rather than turnover.

The council has been awarded £350,000 by the government to help struggling firms during 2017/18.

Council leader Sohail Munawar said:  "We are acutely aware of the pressures many local pubs will be facing after the government's revaluation of business rates.

"We are committed to doing all we can to support pubs and our night-time economy and this money will go some way to providing the breathing space for many landlords who are concerned about the impact of the new rates on their bills."

Also approved by councillors at the meeting was SBC's statutory services plans, the council's accommodation and hub strategy for 2017 to 2020.

Councillors also discussed SBC's achievements as laid out in its annual report for 2016/17.

 The report highlights progress made by the Slough Children's Services Trust and new health services in the borough as well as the council's ability to stay within its budget without cutting frontline services.

SBC leader councillor Sohail Munawar (Lab, Elliman) said: "We wanted to change by putting people first and we did.

"Slough is changing very rapidly for the good."

Visit www.slough.gov.uk/downloads/AnnualReport2016.pdf to read the report.

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