MINISTERS have been urged to do more to give historic pubs a fighting chance in future, following the demolition of the Crooked House in Staffordshire.

The historic West Midlands pub was demolished two days after it was gutted by a fire during the summer.

The 18th century building in Himley, near Dudley, was called the Crooked House because it leaned to one side as a result of land subsidence.

A Staffordshire Police investigation into the circumstances around the blaze continues, and anyone with information is urged to contact the force.

In Parliament, the Conservative MP for Dudley North, Marco Longhi, urged the Government to take steps to protect other heritage pubs from demolition.

Raising the issue in a Westminster Hall debate, Mr Longhi said: "The demise of the Crooked House pub, while tragic in and of itself, has highlighted a much bigger issue nationwide.

"Put simply, the framework we have in place to protect our heritage pubs is simply not winning the war against unscrupulous developers or even against our changing socio-economic environment, meaning that many establishments that once may have been profitable and may not be profitable today.

"And our way of managing that decline most often leads to one outcome: the demise of the pub, often followed by the demise of the building too. Something better needs to be done."

Mr Longhi called for councils to be required to keep a register of all heritage pubs in their area, and review it once a year to keep abreast of developments.

"Local authorities should also develop their own risk register, so that any event, such as an advert for sale, triggers a system for closer monitoring for what happens to this building," he added.

The Tory MP also pointed to planning protections used in Wales, which allow for heritage pubs to receive temporary protections usually granted to listed buildings once an application for listing is made.

Mr Longhi also said he wanted to see a 12-month restriction placed on the sale of heritage pubs if a landlord decides to quit, in order to find a buyer interested in running it as a pub.

He also gave his backing to an additional, six-month pause following this halt on sales to allow the nearby community the chance to purchase it before it goes onto the open market.

Mr Longhi said: "How many more Crooked Houses do we need? How many more times do we want to see our very own history ripped out of the heart of our local communities before this challenge or the scale become small enough to manage?"

Shadow minister for business Justin Madders said Labour would take steps to protect heritage pubs if it wins the next election.

He said: "Pubs are a major part of our local community, many memories are formed there and, of course, they are an important part of the local economy but, with the many challenges that the high street faces, we do not want to see anymore loss than we have and we want to put local people in the driving seat.

"So that's why we will be proposing a new community right to buy, giving local communities the opportunity to take control of pubs, community venues, indeed football clubs, that come up for sale or fall into disrepair."

Communities minister Simon Hoare, meanwhile, described the Crooked House fire as a "huge loss, a serious loss".

Mr Hoare said: "Nobody would want to see, merely for the sake of retention, buildings retained which will fall into a state of disrepair and decay, which are of no asset whatsoever to our high streets and communities and very often have a very negative societal impact during that period of degradation."

He added: "We stand ready to help (Mr Longhi) and other communities to ensure that such important community assets have the strongest protections we can possibly derive."