Chippenham: MP Jim Paice puts in a shift at village pub

AGRICULTURE Minister and South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice has swapped Parliamentary duties for a shift pulling pints at a pub near Newmarket to learn more about the challenges facing the UK brewing and pub industry.

Mr Paice completed a stint as a barman at the Tharp Arms, in Chippenham, to experience life behind the bar first hand and the unique role UK pubs play in society as a place for socialising and building community spirit.

His shift at the pub, which is leased by licensee Mark Daniels from pub operator and brewer Greene King, was organised as part of an initiative by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, of which Greene King is a member, to develop a deeper understanding amongst parliamentarians of the UK’s pub industry.

Pubs are under increasing pressure from a tough consumer environment, rising beer duty, increased red tape, supermarket competition and rising costs.

As well as getting to grips with barman basics such as pulling a proper pint, changing a barrel and cleaning the pipes, Mr Paice spent time talking to Mr Daniels about the current issues faced by licensees and the industry’s contribution to tourism, employment and the economy.

Mr Daniels said: “What better way to get to know our industry than to actually come and work with us for the afternoon.

“All the team had a great time showing Mr Paice the ropes and our customers really enjoyed being served by their local MP and engaging in some lively banter with him.

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“I hope the experience also provided a greater insight and understanding as to how pubs operate so Mr Paice can help represent licensees like myself in Parliament.”

Mr Paice added: “I have always believed that the pub plays a crucial role in community life and I am dismayed at the current rate at which they are having to close.

“Spending time behind the bar today only served to reinforce my view that local pubs are part of the fabric of local life and an important source of enterprise, business and community action and need all the support they can get.”

Mr Paice’s notional wages from the shift will be donated to the Viva Arts and Community Group based in Soham.