Councils can stop high streets '˜decline' - claims pub operator

A Leyland pub operator has claimed the high street is '˜dying' following the release of latest pub closure figures from CAMRA.

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 11:03 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 12:08 pm
Lee Forshaw who runs the Withy Arms, Leyland, has made a new pump clip called '£331 a week business rate' with a picture of the mayor on it, protesting against the cost of Business Rate charges. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday May 04, 2017.

CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale - claims four out of five people have experienced a local pub closure in the last five years.

The organisations says “a massive 80 per cent” of Brits who expressed an opinion have witnessed at least one pub close, and 21 per cent have seen five or more close, according to new research conducted by YouGov.

The findings come as CAMRA reveals its latest pub closures statistics, which have remained high at 18 per week [2]. The hardest hit areas include Greater London and the East Midlands.

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It adds that the figures reveal the ‘huge obstacles’ facing pubs are - high beer duty, rapidly rising business rates and VAT. As a result, a third of the cost of a pint is now made up of various taxes.

Lee Forshaw, director of the Withy Arms Group - which includes the Withy Arms pubs in both Leyland and Bamber Bridge and the Walton Arms, Bamber Bridge, said: “It is a shame that our towns and villages are losing shops and pubs and are becoming a barren land.

“For my own we tried to turn a run down shop in a run down area of Bamber Bridge into a micro pub with an overhaul investment of 300k refused by the council.

“Councils and councillors have the power to stop this decline and encourage investment.

“The high street is dying this will have an impact on house prices because who wants to live in an area with no facilities.

“My question is why do they allow this decline and why do they staganate growth and investment.

“It is no suprise that Ikea pulled out of Bamber Bridge when you have local authority’s with an attitude of the answer is No, now whats the question.”

CAMRA is calling on the Government to abandon any upcoming increases to the tax paid by pubs in November’s Budget.

Current plans will see beer duty rise by around 2p per pint, and pubs are set to lose £1,000 in business rate relief.

CAMRA says pubs play a very important role in our national economy, contributing £23.1 billion annually.

They also provide a wealth of social benefits to individuals and communities, bringing people together and making them happier, better connected and more trusting.

CAMRA’s national chairman Jackie Parker said: “The latest YouGov findings, coupled with our own pub closure figures, paint a dismal picture for our pubs.

“As taxes continue to rise, more people are choosing to drink at home and as a consequence, pubs are closing down

“It’s a vicious cycle.

“Pub closures make us all poorer by reducing overall tax revenues raised by the pub sector and weakening community life in areas where valued pubs close.

“Fundamental change is needed if the British pub is to survive for future generations. We are urging the Government to take action to secure the future of our pubs by relieving the tax burden.”

South Ribble Council was approached for their response but no-one was available for comment.