HALESOWEN and Rowley Regis MP James Morris resigned his Government post this week after voting against a three line whip to protect local pubs like the Haden Cross Inn.

The Friends of Haden Cross Inn won a recent battle to stop a supermarket being built on the pub's car park and asked Mr Morris to ask a question during a debate on pubs in Westminster on Monday.

The Goverment won the vote against a proposed law to protect pubs by ensuring planning permission is needed before a pub is demolished or converted into a supermarket.

Mr Morris MP, who had been Minister of State for Employment Esther McVey's private parliamentary secretary, said: "On Monday I voted in Parliament for a change in the law that would mean planning permission to be required in order to demolish or convert a pub.

"To be able to do this I had to resign my government job to defy a three line whip – I have always made it clear that I will stand up for the interests of Halesowen and Rowley Regis.

"Too many local pubs are being lost to our community without local people having a say and we need to campaign to ensure that pubs have proper protection in the planning system."

He added: "Though the law change was not passed by Parliament, Monday's debate marked a significant step forward in the fight to protect community pubs. "Following the vote I will continue to work with the Friends of Haden Cross Inn to make sure that their application to Sandwell Council to register the pub as an asset of community value is successful and the pub gets the planning protection local people want."

Chairman of The Friends of Haden Cross Inn Tim Haskey was delighte the group got a mention in Parliament.

He said: "On behalf of the friends of Haden cross inn community I am delighted that James Morris supported us by asking a direct question in parliament related to our campaign.

"I hope this highlights to Sandwell council the importance of approving our ACV application without further delay, to give us protection against New River Retail changing the use of the pub without referral to community wishes."

He added: "However, we are very disappointed that parliament missed the opportunity to give pubs as much planning protection as a laundrette currently has.

"At least the issue is now of public record."