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Pickles calls time on 'Prezza Arms'

The public "don't want to see politicians guzzle cheap beer at their expense", Eric Pickles has said 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.

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?"

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."

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

Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance campaign group, said: "The last thing taxpayers expect their hard-earned cash to be spent on is subsidised alcohol for politicians and civil servants.

"Eric Pickles is absolutely right to be closing the taxpayer-subsidised pub in his department and ending this unjustifiable perk."

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-communities-and-local-government(Department for Communities and Local Government)