English Village Pubs Could Disappear

A total of 1400 pubs were closed down last year alone and it seems the great British pub could soon disappear from the hub of village life with communities shutting down and people staying in their own homes.

During a survey run by The British Brewing and Pub Association it was discovered that over eight-two per cent of those participating said the inflation increases on pub prices is unfair for the sensible drinkers, while seventy seven percent of them were more than concerned about the threatening closure of many more pubs.

Rob Haywood of the BBPA was quoted as saying “The indications from the polling are quite clear, the public believe pubs are under threat. They think higher taxes will increase that threat - and not tackle the problems of binge drinking, which we all want to try and resolve."

He went on to forecast that in his opinion the cost of a pint of beer in London in 2012 could well rise to £6.50 if today’s fast rising prices were anything to go by.

Villagers Buy Their Pub

One such village in Cambridgeshire went to arms back in 1999 when their local pub was put under threat of closure.  They had already watched their community slip downhill with the loss of the primary school, a shop and the post office and were determined to keep the pub open.

Forty nine of the villagers grouped together and managed to raise enough money between them to purchase the pub outright.

Each villager put in what they could afford and Bryan Pearson, the chairman of the consortium said "If we hadn't got a pub this place would become a dormitory. We have a village hall but that is very much for set piece events at certain times, but a community needs somewhere where it can just bounce ideas off itself and be at peace with itself."

The pub can never be turned into private housing as it has now become a parish asset.

Village Pub is Biggest Employer in Village

Pub landlord Frank Feehan is happy to point out the pub named Dykes End is a success and is turning into the village’s biggest employer.  With a staff of half a dozen part time personnel and three full time workers “we provide a reason for people to be in the village rather than going to work elsewhere” he said.

He added "This government and other governments say they want to introduce a cafe culture into this country. We already have a kind of cafe culture, but it's a pub culture. It doesn't mean binge drinking and it doesn't mean over drinking, it means coming to a place like this and enjoying yourself, having a locally-brewed pint and having a good time."

MP’s Want Government to Intervene

Janet Dean is the MP for Burton-on-Trent and part of the aptly named ‘All Party Parliamentary Beer Group’ who have just finished a two-year inquiry into why pubs sales are still falling and she feels some form of government intervention could show how the pubs are very much part of the village life.

"We want the government to recognise the value of pubs and the work they do in the community.

"In some instances we have heard of post offices being established in pubs, toilets being used as public toilets and community involvement with football teams. The government could recognise this and other aspects with some form of rating relief."

Ms Dean went on to say “some of us are concerned about the alcohol escalator in the budget. I can understand why he put duty up - as he was looking at supermarket prices and its supermarket prices that have been maintained, if not reduced, over the last 10 years - whereas cheap supermarket prices have put pressure on pubs.”

Smokers and Diners

With the supermarket price war on alcohol it is now far cheaper to buy and take home and once again the smoking ban is being blamed for the decreasing numbers of drinkers in the pubs.

People are more apt to go out to dine now rather than spend the evening drinking.  Families are being catered for on a much larger scale and the once massive pubs are being turned into Chinese and Indian buffet style ‘restaurants’

Because of this situation the pub industry are urging the government to scrap any duty rise planned for next year’s budget as well as subsidising pubs by introducing tax breaks.

Village pubs are the one’s that are truly under threat, more so in England and Wales than in Scotland where it is not quite obvious as of yet. This could be due to the fact that village life is more of the English way of life.