Fears for the future of Britain’s local pubs

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The Government is being urged to do more to help pubs survive after new figures showed that 28 were closing every week.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said the figure had risen by two a week since last year.

It called for a pubs watchdog to protect licensees from high rents and beer prices charged by large pub companies and pressed for the ending of planning “loopholes” to prevent pubs closing in such large numbers.

Mike Benner, Camra’s chief executive said: “Pubs are unnecessarily closing as tied licensees struggle to make their businesses succeed thanks to increased rents and inflated beer prices.

“It is vital that the Government step in to redress the balance with the implementation of an independent pubs watchdog and an option for licensees of large pub companies to opt for market-rent-only agreements, allowing them to buy beer on the open market at cheaper prices.”

Leigh Linley, the author of Great Yorkshire Beer, a guide to newly-created breweries, said pubs were closing despite interest in beer being “the highest I have ever known it”. He highlighted the case of The Owl at Rodley, which closed last summer due to rising costs despite being popular with locals.

He said: “It does appear that the way the system works in this country, with the tied house model, makes it incredibly hard for a publican to make a living. Another issue is that a pub can be bought and turned into anything the developer wants to turn it into.”

Ruth Hamby, proprietor of the One Eyed Rat in Ripon, a finalist in the Yorkshire’s Favourite Pub 2013 competition, said pubs’ profit margins were being reduced and landlords had to “pull out all the stops to increase turnover to stay at the same level”.

She said: “20 years ago you could open a pub and people would walk through, now it is a different kettle of fish and you have to offer something different.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Local pubs are part of the social and cultural fabric of this nation and we are determined to protect them.”