Ministers warned of 'race against time' to save local pubs

MINISTERS will today be urged to give more support for community pubs as new figures reveal more than 300 have closed their doors in Yorkshire in the past four years.

Campaigners have pledged to making saving the nation's pubs as big a political issue as the fight to preserve post offices last year as 36 close their doors every week.

New figures released by the Commons all-party beer group, chaired by Selby MP John Grogan, reveal 311 Yorkshire pubs have closed since the last General Election in June 2005.

Bradford West and Calder Valley - with 27 and 26 closures respectively - have been the hardest hit constituencies according to the figures which show the decline has speeded up since the introduction of the smoking ban in summer 2007.

Mr Grogan said: "The UK's brewing and pub industry is suffering its worst period in a century or more, with many communities losing their pubs every month and dozens of businesses collapsing.

"It is now a race against time, amidst all the other problems of the recession, to get the Government to take notice and to act. Our task is to make the future of the community pub every bit as sensitive an issue in 2009 as the future of the community post office was in 2008."

Today Mr Grogan and more than 60 other MPs are meeting five Ministers from different departments to make clear their concerns.

Communities Minister John Healey, Treasury Minister Angela Eagle, Home Office Minister Alan Campbell, Health Minister Dawn Primarolo and Culture Minister Gerry Sutcliffe are all due to attend the Westminster meeting.

The issue of community pubs has been rising up the political agenda with villages, where the "local" can be a community lifeline, often badly hit.

Read more in Wednesday's Yorkshire Post.

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