Call for action after pub closures hit 18 per week

The Britannia pub in Buckingham has closed and been converted into apartments.'121105M-B035
The Britannia pub in Buckingham has closed and been converted into apartments.'121105M-B035

THE Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is demanding an end to the Government’s beer duty escalator to help call time on a national trend of pub closures.

Just over 100 pubs in south-east England, including Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, have closed in the last six months. The Midlands, including Northamptonshire, saw 155 pub closures since March.

A total of 18 pubs are now closing across Britain each week, according to the latest CGA-CAMRA Pub Tracker figures from March to September 2012.

The number has increased from 12 closures each week during the previous six months.

The beer tax escalator, introduced in 2008, increases the price of a pint by two per cent above inflation each year, and is due to stay in place until 2014-15.

But relief may be on the way after MPs voted for a review last week. The vote followed a 100,000-signature online petition calling for an end to the beer duty escalator.

Mike Benner, CAMRA chief executive, said: “Surpassing the 100,000 signatures required to trigger a debate was a major consumer-led campaigning success, but the real hard work begins now.

“For too long, Britain’s beer drinkers have been forced to endure inflation busting rates of tax on their pint, while the Treasury’s own projections show that these hikes will fail to bring in any additional revenue over the next three years.

“As today’s pub closure figures show, the future of Britain’s valued community pubs remains in jeopardy.”

Donald Turnbull, proprietor of the Walnut Tree Inn in Blisworth near Towcester, welcomed news of the review.

He added: “The amount of duty is increasing every year. We have to put our prices up, but we can’t do it by the full amount, so margins on beer get smaller and smaller.”

He added: “It’s only part of our business, and we have to do other things to get people in.

“But for smaller pubs, 
especially those that rely on beer sales, it really does affect them.”