The traditional British pub is on the decline with as many as 18 closing a week and as many as 25% lost since 2001 alone. But beyond the headlines they still are vital public spaces to socialise, relax and feel part of a community.
In Oldham West and Royton the beer and pub industry supports 76 pubs and 1,218 jobs. The contribution to the economy is significant bringing in £25.5m to the local economy and paying £13.1m in taxes to support public services and investment.
Nationally the industry supports around 900,000 jobs and generates £22.9bn to the economy, paying £12.7bn in taxes as well as supporting £2bn of private investment.
As we are well into ‘Dry January’, for those who have made it the past few days at least, it may not be the most obvious time to celebrate our pubs, but over Christmas and the New Year they were important community places for many.
Good pubs owners are getting ahead, investing in refurbishment, focusing on food to create family friendly spaces, and being more and more creative with brew, for instance the newly launched Cosmic Brew by JW Lees inspired by our very own Professor Brian Cox.
The pressure on pubs has never been greater with the burden of business rates, high rent levels, sometimes overbearing tied leases and the change in consumer behaviour, such as the availability of cheaper supermarket beers, wines and spirits.
In many places the pub not only provides a focal point but is often the building of architectural and historical interest.
There are some good examples of former pubs becoming a new centre of the community, for instance through the conversion to early years nurseries or restaurants.
But as the number of pubs decline it is important thats we value them, or else the future is bleak for pubs, jobs and for many town centres, high street and neighbourhoods too.
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