Biggleswade and Sandy pubs bar MP after he votes in favour of tier system

Pubs in Biggleswade and Sandy have barred their local MP after he voted in favour of the updated system of tiered Covid-19 restrictions in England.
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In a ban which could last up to two years, Richard Fuller, Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire, will no longer be allowed in premises which are members of the Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton District Pub Watch.

The members issued the notice on Wednesday, as they were angered and upset to learn that Mr Fuller supported the regional system - a ruling they feel will damage the pub industry in Central Bedfordshire.

One member told the Chronicle: “We’re pretty annoyed. The pubs were all operating in a safe and proper manner and I had no problems going into any of them because of the social distancing measures that were in place; they were more concerned than the supermarkets.

Eamonn Watson of the Rose pub has started up a petition against the tier 2 rating, while Pubwatch say Richard Fuller MP (right) is not welcome in any of their members’ premises.Eamonn Watson of the Rose pub has started up a petition against the tier 2 rating, while Pubwatch say Richard Fuller MP (right) is not welcome in any of their members’ premises.
Eamonn Watson of the Rose pub has started up a petition against the tier 2 rating, while Pubwatch say Richard Fuller MP (right) is not welcome in any of their members’ premises.

“I supported the government during the lockdown, but I think the tier system needs to be looked at properly and we were expecting Richard to be voting against it. That was the impression he gave.

“I’m a great believer that our MPs should be working for us. We pay their wages.”

Meanwhile, a petition has been set up by the owners of The Rose in Biggleswade High Street to campaign for the SG18 area to be placed into tier 1 in order to save the livelihoods of local businesses.

Central Bedfordshire is in tier 2 - which does not allow pubs to serve alcohol unless it is provided with a substantial meal - meaning The Rose cannot open as it does not yet have an operational kitchen.

Eamonn Watson, who is the co-owner and manager along with his partner Sarah Mulchrone, argued: “Most pubs can earn up to 25 to 40 per cent of their takings during November - December, so how do they [the government] expect them to survive?

“It also seems silly forcing people to eat food they don’t want, especially when there’s food banks struggling at the moment, and if people are at home alone, they can’t come here and socialise [due to the one household rule].

“Biggleswade should not fall under the same umbrella as large towns such as Luton and Bedford. Businesses and residents have worked hard to keep cases low and going into tier 2 is needlessly harmful.

“We are disappointed that Mr Fuller voted in favour.”

Mr Fuller has been barred from the following establishments: Conservative Club, Biggleswade; Drink, Biggleswade; Gardeners Arms, Biggleswade; George’s Hall Biggleswade; Golden Pheasant, Biggleswade; The Rose, Biggleswade; The Crown, Biggleswade; Whistle and Flute, Biggleswade; White Hart, Biggleswade; Working Men’s Club, Biggleswade; Yorkshire Grey, Biggleswade; Stratton House, Biggleswade; The Pembroke Arms, Biggleswade; Potton W.M.C, Potton; The Bell, Sandy; and The Four Horsemen, Sandy.

In response, Mr Fuller said: “Pubwatch schemes across the UK were not designed to make political points but to create a safe environment in our pubs. That should be their sole focus. Their notice to me states that they have a ‘legal duty to ensure that disorderly, argumentative and violent behaviour does not occur on their premises and to prevent the occurrence of criminal offences’. It is therefore baffling that they should determine that an MP casting a vote in the Commons could possibly be deemed to breach this duty.

“I had already raised with the health minister the specific concern of rural Bedfordshire being grouped with Luton and Milton Keynes, and while I share the frustrations of many with the limited opening of our pubs, this is not an appropriate way for these pub owners to make their point. Pubwatch schemes exist to create a safer drinking environment.

“I did not support the national lockdown because I wanted Covid-secure businesses, like pubs, to be able to trade. The decision to move to a tiered arrangement this week means that those pubs able to serve a substantial meal were able to open from 2nd December. If the tiered arrangement had not been approved, all pubs would have had to remain closed. The tiers will be reviewed in mid-December and again at the end of January.

“Pubs have received considerable support from the government, including the Job Retention Scheme for employees, a business rates holiday and a range of grants. Every business forced to close will receive grants of up to £3,000 a month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant and local authorities are being provided with a further £1.1 billion to support businesses in their area.

“Where businesses are not required to close but are severely affected by restrictions in tier 2 and tier 3 areas, local councils will receive funding to provide grants up to £2,100 for each 28-day period. The PM has also announced a one-off £1,000 grant for wet-led pubs in tier 2 and 3 areas in addition to the other grants.”

The website has outlined why the tier system has been established: “It is right to apply tighter restrictions where prevalence is highest. In September and October, the virus spread rapidly in all parts of the country. The government responded with new national restrictions. These have brought transmission back under control.

“The government will replace [replaced] them on 2 December with a regionally-differentiated approach, where different tiers of restrictions apply in different parts of the country.

“These tiers will be strengthened compared to the previous tiers in order to prevent a return to growing infections. We know that social contact spreads the virus. We need to impose these restrictions and it is right to target the toughest measures only in the areas where the virus is most prevalent or where we are seeing sharper increases in the rate of infection. The government is committed to ensuring the right levels of intervention in the right places to manage outbreaks and suppress the virus.”

To sign Eamonn’s petition, search for: ‘Put Biggleswade & villages back into Tier 1, cases are low and economy unfairly suffering’ on

> What’s your view on Mr Fuller’s ban? Email [email protected]