The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has invited the new First Minister of Wales for a drink to discuss the future of the nation’s pubs.

Newly appointed First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething is being invited by CAMRA to meet for a drink at a pub of their choice to discuss plans to protect, promote and safeguard pubs and breweries as vital community assets across Wales. 

The invite comes as recent CAMRA data reveals 73 pubs in Wales closed for business in 2023, with an additional 10 closures where the building is no longer being used as a pub or having been converted to another use. 

CAMRA, which represents thousands of pub goers across Wales, wants to see a re-think on the decision to reduce help with business rates for hospitality businesses. 

Campaigners also want to see the introduction of protections in Wales’ planning system to give communities a chance to save their local pub by requiring planning permission to be obtained before a pub is converted or demolished.   

Currently Wales has the weakest planning safeguards for pubs in Great Britain. Following the much-maligned demolition of the Crooked House in England, the pub will have to be re-built, but no such pub protection laws exist in Wales. 

Commenting, CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said:  

“I would like to congratulate Vaughan Gething on becoming First Minister. We know he has a lot in his in-tray, but beer drinkers and pub goers across the country will want the protection and promotion of community pubs and Welsh beer to be among the new First Minister's priorities. 

“That’s why we are inviting him to have a drink on us at a pub of his choice to discuss the uncertain future of Welsh pubs, clubs, breweries and cider makers. With more pubs having closed or being converted to other uses last year, CAMRA members want the Welsh Government to do more to stem the loss of pubs as community hubs up and down the country.” 

Chris Charters, CAMRA’s Wales Director, added: 

“CAMRA are joining the calls from licensees and local breweries to bring back the 75% discount on business rates bills. With prices and costs continuing to rise, and customers tightening their belts, the burden of business rates can be make or break for many beer and pub businesses.  

“In addition, I would invite the First Minister to look at improving planning laws to give Welsh communities the first chance to take ownership of their local if it is under threat of closure or conversion, thereby hopefully increasing the number of community-run pubs in Wales.”