Plans to save local pubs

Crisis hit pubs could be saved from closure as communities will be given the right to run or own their local pub - whoever wins the general election - as both main parties go head to head over how to safeguard local services.

Crisis hit pubs could be saved from closure as communities will be given the right to run or own their local pub - whoever wins the general election - as both main parties go head to head over how to safeguard local services.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday launched Labour's manifesto with a pledge to create a fund to encourage community ownership in their local pub.

Labour said they would also make it harder to demolish pubs and relax licensing rules on live music and also repeated a pledge to create a 'people's bank' using the existing post office network.

But the Conservatives, who launch their own manifesto today, accused Labour of stealing their ideas stating they had already gone further with detailed plans to give communities the right to buy facilities such as the local pub, village shop, swimming pool, and library, if they can demonstrate they can run them better.

And the Lib Dems said in the first half of 2009, 52 pubs a week had closed, and more than 4,000 had shut for good since March 2008, with more than 24,000 jobs lost.

In Norfolk, where dozens of communities have been blighted by the loss of a village shop, post office and pub, the commitment of all parties to address the issue was broadly welcomed.