Welcome Back Fund proposal to permit marquees in pub gardens meets with mixed reception

In a press release (that you can download below), Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has today (20 March 2021) announced a new raft of measures to prepare our high streets and seaside resorts for summer“.

Under this £56million initiative “pubs, restaurants and listed buildings [will be] given more flexibility to use their land to help more people meet up and enjoy themselves, including erecting marquees in pub gardens for the whole summer”.

In the press release, Jenrick is quoted as saying:

As we move to the next stage on the roadmap out of lockdown we are all looking forward to being reunited with friends and family outdoors and making a safe and happy return to our favourite shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Our Welcome Back Fund gives every city, town and high street support to prepare for a great summer. This funding will help councils and businesses to welcome shoppers, diners and tourists back safely.

As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer and that we’ve been missing so much.

I’m allowing every pub in the country to erect a marquee in their garden for the whole summer as a one-off power to support our locals.

His comment about marquees met with a mixed reception from the pub industry, with JD Wetherspoon Chairman Tim Martin describing it as a “headline-grabbing initiative that shows the madcap Downing Street dodgem car is out of control”.