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News Report Page 12 of 15
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Change to brewer duty is the:- "Wrong measure at the wrong time," says MP

Les O’Grady pictured with Bill Esterson MP on a pre-Coronavirus visit to the Neptune Brewery in Maghull.

A Merseyside MP has raised concerns about the Government's changes to beer duty for micro breweries, saying the new scheme risks putting some brewers out of business at a time when they need every assistance to survive. Bill Esterson, MP for Sefton Central, said he had been contacted by brewers in the constituency who were dismayed at plans to lower the threshold for small brewer duty relief from 5000 hectolitres (HL) per year to 2100HL. The changes mean some small breweries will pay more tax, and there will be a disincentive for others to grow their businesses. Currently brewers pay only 50% of the normal duty on production up to 5000HL.

Mr Esterson said:- "This will have a massive impact on the craft brewing industry. Micro breweries help bring new products to market and create jobs, and this is helped by the duty relief that small brewers can claim. By lowering the threshold the Government risks stagnating the creative side of the industry. Where is the incentive to innovate and take chances? By paying a higher rate of duty, small breweries, without the economies of scale of the bigger breweries, will see their margins squeezed. Ultimately it will lead to higher costs to the trade and ultimately the customer. It is likely to affect consumer choice and quality through the impact on innovation. Of immediate concern is the loss of jobs in the industry and the closure of businesses both in brewing and in retail. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the brewing industry hard but help has been minimal. They won't benefit from lower VAT on food sales which has been brought in to assist the Hospitality industry and have not had help with rates either. Even breweries who currently produce less than 2100HL per year will be affected because they will be less able to invest in new equipment to grow their businesses. This is a disincentive to invest. I have written to the Chancellor to raise my concerns and those of the micro brewers in my constituency. He needs at the very least to delay this until the economy and industry has had the chance to recover. This is the precisely the wrong measure at precisely the wrong time."

Les O'Grady, director and head brewer of Neptune Brewery in Maghull, told the MP:- "This will have a drastic influence on the craft brewing industry in this country. There has been a rapid increase in micro breweries operating in all Regions bringing innovative and exciting products to market and creating jobs helped in the main by small brewer duty relief. The brewing industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and there has been little in the way of assistance helping us on the way out as well.  At present our brewery is under the 2100HL per year margin but with our year on year growth and investment in new equipment we have the capacity to go above. However with the new proposals there is no financial incentive to do this, ultimately we will work harder with no end reward."

Rimrose Valley running track to be extended

A community led project to reinstate 'Chaffers' running track on Rimrose Valley has been given the green light to continue its work. The popularity of the project has meant that the team will now excavate the full 8m width of the track and mark out lanes, with the next phase of work due to begin as soon as possible. Since the initial work was completed in May, the facility has become a magnet for running clubs and individuals alike. People of all ages and abilities can be seen using the track at any time.

Speaking on behalf of Marsh Lane Harriers who are leading the restoration work, John Carragher said:- "We are bowled over by how popular this project has been. At times, the track can be quite busy, so widening it is an obvious next step. We have big plans for further improvements on this site and look forward to working with Rimrose Valley Friends and Sefton Council to deliver these in the future."

Sarah Edey, Co-leader of Rimrose Runners and Trustee of Rimrose Valley Friends said:- "The running track has been an amazing success and is a positive story to have come out of the difficult times we've had recently. It has given clubs like ours a completely new way of training, without having to leave the safety of Rimrose Valley and the clean air and beautiful surroundings it provides. We're really grateful to everyone who is making this project happen."

Users of Rimrose Valley are being encouraged to take part in an online Survey on how they use the park. This information will be used by the Save Rimrose Valley campaign in their fight to protect the park. Highways England has plans to build a dual carriageway through the park to facilitate more traffic to and from the Port of Liverpool.

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