Doncaster MP backs landlord’s call for help on cost of drinks

Terrie-Jane Fairclough, manager and Zoe Fairclough, Bar staff, pictured inside the newly refurbished Horse and Jockey pub. Picture: Marie Caley
Terrie-Jane Fairclough, manager and Zoe Fairclough, Bar staff, pictured inside the newly refurbished Horse and Jockey pub. Picture: Marie Caley

A Doncaster publican has called on breweries to support independent pubs by lowering prices to help them to compete with larger chains.

David Singh, owner of the Horse and Jockey, Saint Sepulchre Gate, said it is impossible for community pubs to compete with the big brands, which offer £2 pints.

He said: “We have the same running costs as the big pubs, but we are not getting the same level of custom so we just can’t offer the same low prices.

“I think the breweries could do something to help, they could offer us some kind of deal or monthly prices so that we can pass some of these savings down to our customers.”

The Horse and Jockey is not leased – the Singh family owns the building – so they are not restricted by who they can buy their beer from as some tenants are, but they are still restricted by space.

“The big companies can buy in massive bulk so they can get the beer cheap, but we just can’t do that – we work day to day,” said David.

The pub has recently re-opened, following a five week closure for re-decoration after the Singhs took back control of the venue.

No longer able to work the late nights required, David’s dad joint-manager Jimmy Singh decided he would lease the building in September last year. But when that lease ended he decided to hire more staff, including his co-manager Terrie-Jane Fairclough, and take back the pub.

“Business has been steady since we first opened,” said David.

“People are starting to realise that the pub has re-opened and we are the managers again, we are just getting our regulars back.

“What people get here, that you can’t get in one of the chain pubs, is a sense that you are stepping in to your own front room.

“A lot of people like to come in for a chat.

“We are hoping we will be able to build up our customer base.

“In time we want to look at providing food to help us compete with the bigger chains, but we don’t want to run before we can walk so we shall see.”

As well as running the pub, the Singhs also provide six private rented rooms upstairs and they have recently been granted planning permission to build five more above the function room.

“All of our rooms are full at the moment, and most of the tenants have been there for a long time, a year or more, so we decided we wanted to provide more,” said David.

Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton agrees that something needs to be done to help local pubs to buy their beer from cheaper sources.

Ms Winterton, who has previously backed legislation aimed at helping pub landlords, confirmed she thought action was needed.

She said: “I believe that further action is needed to ensure that large pubcos treat publicans more fairly. Pub tenants have been promised a level playing field but the Government has been too slow to introduce the proper statutory code and provide the Market Rent Only option that will allow them to buy beer on the open market rather than from their landlords.”