Cramond Inn row over and Margaret Thatcher letter

The Cramond Inn. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The Cramond Inn. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Customers of a historic city pub have hit out at steep price rises by the brewery which runs it, after a bizarre letter from the co-owner praising Margaret Thatcher.

The Cramond Inn has been refuelling thisty patrons for more than 300 years and – until 2002 – was owned by the Proudfoot family for almost a century.

Letter from Samuel Smith Brewery, owner of the Cramond Inn to regulars

Letter from Samuel Smith Brewery, owner of the Cramond Inn to regulars

Once a bedrock of the seaside village, the pub’s loyal drinkers are turning against the brewery that now owns the Cramond Inn following hiked up prices and a bizarre letter from the firm’s co-owner.

There has even been talk of a boycott and claims a nearby boat club has seen its membership soar.

The beloved pub was forced to close its doors throughout September following a wrangle over a personal licence needed to run the bar. But when it reopened locals were aghast at the inflated prices, with a pint of cider rocketing by more than £1 to £4.24 and the cost of ale leaping by 90p.

Around 30 fed-up customers wrote to brewery Samuel Smith – which owns the pub – claiming their beloved watering hole had gone from being one of the cheapest in the village to the most expensive.

A week later, they were stunned to receive a handwritten letter from Yorkshire brewery boss Humphrey RW Smith slamming Scottish licensing laws, praising the late Lady Thatcher, and addressing the rant to his “former regulars”.

And he said the brewery had introduced “London prices” to the Cramond Inn because Edinburgh and the English capital were the same distance away from its Tadcaster headquarters.

In flowery scrawl, Mr Smith wrote: “Scotland is a highly regulated and bureaucratic country and becoming more so, unlike the rest of the UK, where, no doubt largely due to Mrs Thatcher, regulations have been made much easier, more efficient and less bureaucratic.

“Edinburgh is more than 200 miles north of the brewery and we have raised our retail prices in Scotland to the same level as in London which is 200 miles south of our brewery in Tadcaster.”

Despite vowing to support the bar, the disgruntled drinkers railed against the “dismissive” tone of the letter claiming it showed “no appreciation for the customer loyalty” they had shown over many years.

One regular, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I’ve been going to this pub for 20 years. I don’t hold any grudge against the inn’s management or staff because they have nothing to do with the pricing. But the sheer arrogance of this letter was just horrendous – especially referring to us as ‘former regulars’.

“This company has owned The Cramond Inn for years, and to say they have got to charge London prices now seems very vindictive, even a little politically-motivated.

“I think that Samuel Smith lost money because they didn’t understand how the licensing laws work here, and now they’re taking it out on the Scottish people.”

Samuel Smith was approached by the News but declined to comment.

Letter that made customers see red

“Dear Former Regulars,

Thank you for your letter of October 9, 2014.

“Scotland is a highly regulated and bureaucratic country and becoming more so, unlike the rest of the UK where, no doubt largely due to Mrs Thatcher, regulations have been made much easier and more efficient and less bureaucratic.

“It seems to us quite ridiculous that while the holder of a Scottish personal licence can run any pub south of the Border, the holder of an English/Welsh personal licence cannot run a pub in Scotland!

“Personal licences in Scotland take a very long time to come through. Changeovers in England/Wales are instant, in Scotland they have to wait for meetings of the licensing board and we have all the expense of employing solicitors.

“Samuel Smith’s draught beers, which contain no chemicals whatsoever, offer the best value for money in the UK. Edinburgh is more than 200 miles north of the brewery and we have raised our retail prices in Scotland to the same level as London which is 200 miles south of our brewery in Tadcaster.

“With the bureaucracy and regulation in Scotland, I am afraid we cannot continue to offer our drinks at the same sort of price levels as in the north of England and Wales.

“Yours sincerely, Humphrey R. W. Smith (co-owner of Samuel Smith Brewery)”