PUBS and breweries in Stourbridge and Halesowen are fighting to survive amid latest lockdown restrictions which prevent them selling takeaway alcohol, CAMRA has claimed.

In previous lockdowns, several pubs had been offering takeaway beer to help keep their heads above water and maintain contact with the community.

Stourbridge & Halesowen Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) says the hospitality industry is being unfairly discriminated against, while supermarkets and off licences can continue to sell alcohol.

This latest lockdown is proving the toughest yet for licensees, the local CAMRA branch has said and it is calling for a more sector-specific support programme from the government.

A spokesman for the branch said some CAMRA members have contacted their MPs but they claim they've been told the government had to stop alcohol takeaways because people were gathering outside pubs to drink and spreading coronavirus.

Branch chairman Tim Cadwell said: “The thing we feel most aggrieved about is that pubs have gone to enormous lengths to make it safe to reopen and lots of them have done a very good job.

"They've really struggled to make any money and we think it's very unfair to stop them from trying to play on a level playing field with the supermarkets and off-licences by offering their own alcohol takeaways. Pubs have had a year of very tough restrictions and forced closures and now they've been hit again by this alcohol ban.

"We need a sector-specific support scheme to ensure these pubs are still there to serve their customers when the lockdown lifts.

"We fully support the need for this lockdown, but the government needs to look at a more substantial support package for licensees. A lot of them are still having to pay rent - some may have had discounts on their rents, but there are other costs that don't just disappear just because the pub is closed."

Some breweries, like Fixed Wheel Brewery in Blackheath, Green Duck Beer Co in Stourbridge and Lye based Printworks Brewery and Beat Brewery, have launched a beer delivery service – but only Fixed Wheel still offers a pre-order collect service at the brewery.

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb said she would be writing to new Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to ask him to consider allowing pubs to sell takeaway alcohol as they did during November’s lockdown.

She said: "I do believe these lockdown rules are unfair for pubs in Stourbridge and I am concerned their futures will be put at further risk if these restrictions continue."

Dudley South MP Mike Wood, who is chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said he had been in numerous meetings over the last few days with ministers including Matt Hancock to try to find a solution to help pubs and breweries struggling.

He said being able to offer takeaway booze would be "an extra lifeline at a really difficult time" for the pub industry and he added: "We do need to do everything we can to let pubs sell takeaway beer in containers, bottles and cans as they have done in previous lockdowns to help keep them going so they are still there afterwards."

Breweries, he said, can sell takeaway beer but not if they are attached to a pub.

Jack Gardener, at The Old Wharf Inn in Stourbridge, said the ban on selling alcohol for collection had been "the final blow for all pubs and restaurants in the hospitality industry".

He said a decision to set up an online gift shop and maintain a social media presence had helped the popular canalside pub through 2020, which had been a year of constantly adapting and innovating amid the lockdowns and restrictions.

But he said of the latest lockdown: "It’s been a tough one for us as we wanted to push The Old Wharf Gin sales via collection throughout the new year.”