28,000 pubs close as industry is now facing a ‘ticking time bomb’

Pubs are struggling financially in the current climate.
Pubs are struggling financially in the current climate.
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AS MANY as 28,000 pubs have closed since the 1970s as the sector faces a “ticking time bomb” over its future, a report published today has warned.

Research by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) found there are fewer than 50,000 pubs, with more beer now being drunk at home. Camra called for greater support for pubs, saying they are more under threat than ever.

The Yorkshire Post revealed in May that 694 pubs have closed in the region in the past decade. In Leeds, which has seen the biggest decline, that rate of closure is more than 22 per cent of its total.

However, Ed Sunter, sales manager at Leeds Brewery, which used to run a number of pubs in the city and continues to supply them, argued that it was not all doom and gloom.

He said: “From our perspective as a brewery that is supplying to a lot of different types of venues, the industry has changed a lot in the last decade, including the way people drink, what people drink and how they approach going out.

“These days you often have to have a good food offering to bring in punters.

“We are also seeing a trend in community-operated pubs, where people have stepped in to save venues, and there is also a trend of micro-breweries opening in a lot of smaller communities, which is also a great thing to see. Even though these are worrying statistics, there are certainly things for people to consider if they are looking to join the sector.”

Camra’s annual Good Beer Guide reports that when the group formed in the early 1970s, Britain had 75,000 pubs. The new business rates revaluation introduced this year is the latest “ticking time bomb” to devastate the sector, the group said, as it launched a campaign calling for an annual £5,000 reduction in business rates for all of England’s pubs.

The Government says it has already provided 9,000 small pubs with a £1,000 discount on business rates in a £435m package of support. A spokesman added pubs and customers have saved more than £2bn since 2013 through changes to alcohol duty.

Village inn is rated as best in the country for a second year

A village pub in North Yorkshire that was saved from closure through a community buyout is in the running to be named the best in the country for a second year in a row.

The George & Dragon in Hudswell, near Richmond, closed in 2008 after the owners went bankrupt, but regulars formed a co-operative to buy and refurbish it before it reopened in 2010.

In March it was named Pub of the Year by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra). And today it was announced that the pub had won the regional title, meaning it has the opportunity to retain its crown in 2018.

National Pub of the Year co-ordinator Andrea Briers said: “It is a huge honour to be selected as one of the top 16 pubs in the country, as well as to be entered in the Good Beer Guide, so whatever happens next all the pubs should be very proud.”

Paula Dillon, President of Leeds Chamber Commerce.

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