ISLE of Wight campaigners are gearing up to fight for the Island's pubs.

A public meeting will be held at The Globe, Cowes, at 5pm next Saturday (November 17) to explain why so many pubs are under threat and what can be done about it.

The meeting has been organised by the Forum of Private Business to tackle what it describes as 'the unprecedented number of pub closures on the Island.'

The King Lud, Ryde, was the latest to close its doors last month, shortly after The New Inn, Shalfleet. Meanwhile, new leaseholders are set to take on The Pier View, Cowes, and The Castle Inn, Newport.

Forum member, campaigner and licensee Dave Mountford said the Pubs Code — the legislation governing the relationship between pubs and the companies that own them — had failed.

Under the 'tied tenancy' model, campaigners have accused pub owning businesses of exploiting publicans by forcing them to buy beer at sky-high prices.

The regional branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) will also be meeting on the same day, at 12.30pm at The Anchor, Cowes.

Regional director Nigel Jones said he wanted to involve Isle of Wight residents in the fight against pub closures.

Last Tuesday (October 30) CAMRA members from around the country travelled to Westminster to take part in a national day of action and lobby their MPs, asking for their support ahead of a review of the Pubs Code next year.

Representing the Isle of Wight were Mike Locke and Malcolm Watson, who met with MP Bob Seely to raise concerns about the impact of pub closures on the Island community.

They said the Ei Group — formerly Enterprise Inns — was the single biggest pub company on the Island, owning 22 per cent of all pubs, and had a responsibility not to abuse its dominant position.

However, speaking to the County Press following the King Lud closure, the Ei Group said while it was true publicans paid more for their beer, they also paid less in rent than they would on the open market.

A spokesperson said tenants were not forced to sign leases or agree terms against their will, and said the company had invested £750,000 in Isle of Wight pubs in the last three years.

Mr Seely has agreed to support campaigners and will attend next week's meetings.