POLITICS

Eric Pickles Closes Whitehall Bar, Saying Public 'Don't Want To See Us Guzzling Cheap Beer'

16/03/2013 13:56 GMT

The public "don't want to see politicians guzzle cheap beer at their expense", Eric Pickles said on Saturday as he announced he had "called time" on a subsidised bar in his own Whitehall department.

The Communities Secretary said the authorities "should take note" days after Falkirk MP Eric Joyce was arrested by police following an alleged brawl at a popular bar within Parliament.

And he told Tory party activists at their spring conference that he was acting to shut down a bar selling cut-price booze in the DCLG's London HQ - joking that it was known as "The Prezza Arms" after Labour predecessor John Prescott.

eric pickles

Pickles closed 'The Prezza Arms', as it's known, this week

In his speech, he said: "Backed up by secret subsidies, it charges just £1.90 for a small bottle of Chardonnay," he told the central London event.

"That's what I call minimum pricing," he added in a light-hearted reference to the expected abandonment of that policy amid Cabinet divisions.

"Now we're the department in charge of supporting community pubs. But there are eight licensed premises within 30 seconds of our front door, so why do we need a government pub?

"The bar has fond memories of Prezza. Mrs Pickles rest assured - I've not been frequenting it with civil servants.

john prescott

The bar was named for the no-nonsense former deputy minister

"But sorry John. It's a dinosaur. It' a reminder of another age. So I've called time.

"The Prezza Arms has served its last Tia Maria."

In an apparent reference to the incident involving Mr Joyce, he added: "The public don't want to see politicians guzzle cheap drink at their expense.

"The House of Commons and its Labour MPs should take note."

Joyce quit the Labour Party last year after being convicted of assault in a different parliamentary bar.