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EATING & DRINKING

UK pub closures escalate

By chief hack Ignatius Rake

Posted January 23, 2015
pub for sale
Another one bites the dust: Stop this bloody rot. © CAMRA

New CAMRA stats show 29 pubs closing each week, up from 16 four years ago.


The number of net pub closures in the UK has risen to 29 per week, a press release issued by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) states.

Up from 28 a week last year, this is "almost twice" the 2011 rate of 16 a week.

However, there may yet be a ray of hope for the sector as the figures1 "coincide with a new clause to the Infrastructure Bill2 in England".


SAVE OUR PUBS
Tabled this week by a cross-party group of MPs, the clause "would mean that planning permission is always required before demolishing or converting a pub into a supermarket, convenience store or other retail use".

"It is currently possible to convert a pub into a betting shop, pay-day loan store or supermarket without the need for planning permission, making it far too easy for pubs valued by the community to be lost without local people having a say," says CAMRA CEO Tim Page.

"Given the huge contribution that pubs make to community life in Britain we believe this cannot be right."

"The clause, tabled by Charlotte Leslie MP, is a fantastic opportunity to get the government to take swift action to close these planning loopholes."

"We urge every MP who supports local communities and local pubs to get behind this clause and help secure a better future for the great British pub industry."

"We hope that we can rally support from sufficient MPs to persuade ministers to reconsider their current refusal to provide effective planning protection for viable and valued pubs."


PUBS MATTER
The proposed amendment is, the press release states, "a huge step forward" for CAMRA's Pubs Matter campaign, which urges the government "to make a simple change to the law in England so that a planning application is required before a pub is demolished or converted into another use".

This change, CAMRA says, "would give pubs the same protection that exists for sites such as theatres, scrap yards and nightclubs" while also giving communities "the chance to have a say when their local pub is under threat".

The campaign has so far secured the support of nearly 100 MPs for an Early Day Motion on pub demolition and change of use.

CAMRA, along with the Rake & Herald for that matter, would like to see all MPs backing the clause "and make the changes necessary to support local pubs across the country".

"We urgently need a change to the law to protect pubs like The Bourne End in Brentry in my constituency [of Bristol North West] from being simply demolished, or turned into a supermarket before the community has had the ability to have its say," Leslie says.

"Of course there will be some pubs that simply are not viable, but we must reset the balance in favour of the community, not the big developers."


See also UK pub closures hit 28 a week, posted 3/3/14.


Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist and geographer who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. A published lyricist and founder of the Naked Trouser DJ collective, he has fronted punk bands in both the UK and Poland, including the only band ever to be kicked off BBC Radio Cornwall. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and Major League Eating speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.


Footnotes

1) Based on the latest CGA-CAMRA Pub Tracker for the period June 2014-December 2014.

2) New Clause 16 to the Infrastructure Bill has been tabled by the Save the Pub Group and will be open for debate at the Report Stage this coming Monday (26/1/15).




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