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Does the British pub have a future?

11:05 UK time, Friday, 19 March 2010

The Government has unveiled measures to protect community pubs in an effort to stem nearly 40 closures a week. What is your reaction?

The measures include £3.3 million to be spent on business support to make pubs more successful and to help communities buy into struggling premises to keep them open. Pubs will also be allowed to extend into ventures ranging from restaurants to
gift shops and book shops without planning permission.

Pubs minister John Healey said, "This package of tough, practical measures aims to put some real support behind our community pubs, giving publicans more support to
diversify and punters more choice".

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) welcomed the announcement. Camra chief executive Mike Benner said: "This is a great day for people who care about the future of our community pubs".

Do you welcome the new measures? Will it encourage you to visit your local pub more often? Do you run a pub and will the extra support help your business?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    "The Government has unveiled measures to protect community pubs in an effort to stem nearly 40 closures a week.

    What is your reaction? "

    About time!

  • Comment number 2.

    This is a fantastic idea! So many pubs have closed down! The smoking ban did not help. I have never smoked in my life but I think smoking should be allowed, in a different part of the pub & not outside. I walked into a pub recently & there was NO ONE INSIDE only the landlord! I was shocked he had lovely sandwiches prepared, a large tv on & it was warm! I am sure if I went back now he would have closed down, so for him it is TOO LATE. A close friend of mine told me he was a guarantor for his brothers pub he went bust & he had to pay the seventy thousand pounds. So for him too, it i TOO LATE! But all the ideas mentioned, should bring in customers I hope it works.

  • Comment number 3.

    No is the answer, with smoking bans and high prices for beer its cheaper to have a few mates round for drink at home. It's not the same but when your pockets are stretched to the limit with high taxes and bills you don't really have much of a choice. I expect to see a lot of small businesses going in the next coming months very sad.

  • Comment number 4.

    City centre "megapubs" should be forced to provide more seating and tables , reduce music volumes and stop 2 for 1 offers. It would force drinkers to spread out benefitting other pubs and reducing the impact of binge drinking. I ve spent years living in cities with this kind of drinking culture and see the benefits living in a village with a more ""traditional" pub culture. (less trouble and a broader age range out at night). Landlords should also be penalised for disorder related to specific pubs. The problem affecting traditional pubs is cheap competition from pub chains and the chains benefit directly contributes to City Centre disorder. (and as a nurse I ve seen the consequences in A+E)

  • Comment number 5.

    The way things are going, there will be more pubs in Tehran
    I tend to drink at home whilst watching TV or DVD because of all the worries of drink driving and the cost of a pint is horrendous.
    I fear many pubs will go leaving just a few quality pubs to serve beer and food.

  • Comment number 6.

    1. Revoke 24 hour drinking
    2. Significantly increase the duty on "off sales" and restrict supermarket retail times
    3. Reduce the duty on wet sales over the pub counter

  • Comment number 7.

    I blame, at least in part, the smoking ban and the astronomical tax on alcohol. I assume there will be many others who share my opinion.

    The tax on alcohol is far too high, just like most other things people enjoy.

    There was no need for the smoking ban. Completely separate smoking areas would have been enough. Or there could have been a option to make pubs either smoking or non-smoking and people could have decided which they were going to drink in.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's some good news, although it doesn't address the heart of the problem for many pubs, which are large chains. They seem to demand massive rents from the landlord whilst putting nothing back in themselves, so it's no wonder that many can't afford to stay in business (or don't get enough for it to be worth carrying on even if they can just about stay afloat). If more pubs were free houses then fewer would be closing down.

    The smoking ban has not been a problem for a well-run pub. My local, for instance, became much busier after it - because the previous landlord left and was replaced by someone much better. The smoking ban being at the same time was entirely coincidental.

  • Comment number 9.

    The "government" helping the pub trade? Is someone having a laugh?

    Since the enforced smoking ban pubs have been closing at the rate of 2 a week and has the "government" looked into this or said they'd review it? No. They know what the British people want of course and they don't want smoky pubs. Perhaps smokers do!

    Recently we hear that standard quiz machines and other events (pub quizzes, Sky Sports etc) will be taxed at the standard fruit machine rate of £2500 per year, meaning more pubs will have to pay the extra money or lose trade and close.

    I simply can't believe a word this lot say. They've done the damage, possibly too much to be repaired and now it's close to an election, it's suddenly time to help out? Give me a break.

  • Comment number 10.

    I like visiting pubs as much as the next man, but I also believe in the market. If people don't use a facility, there's not much point keeping it open. Encouragement, advice and support to help diversify businesses is a good idea, turning them into community centres or the like, but subsidy for subsidy's sake is wrong and counter productive.

  • Comment number 11.

    The issue with making pubs more community based will be the issue of more children being there. That would make me stay away. While some children know how to behave at a pub, others run around screaming, shouting and bugging the customers while their parents turn a blind eye. A pub is a place for relaxing.

  • Comment number 12.

    We have a pub minister? What has he been doing all this time?

    The role of government is to get out of the way of commercially viable industries. A raft of legislation has caused the decline - a reversal might help but throwing my tax money at it certainly won't.

  • Comment number 13.

    Nice but this is a far more reaching thing than throwing money at the problem. People are broke due to economic problems in the country. Cheap booze from supermarkets is a better option than more expensive pub beer. Even the franchises aren't always cheap enough to make it more than the occasional treat.

    I love a good pint or two with friends at the pub but it's getting harder and harder to afford it.

  • Comment number 14.

    I recommend comment 7.

  • Comment number 15.

    Its the food and other rubbish thats aimed at the bmw driving middle class thats ruined a lot of out of town pubs in the citys the pub chains have turned most the pubs into vomit factorys for youngsters fill them up with cheap booze, give them no where to sit so they don't sit around talking when they could be standing up drinking.

  • Comment number 16.

    I lament the demise of the great British pub,probably more than most, but i'm not sure that this is something the government should be involved in.

    At the end of the day, all the 'business support' in the world is'nt going to save them if they can't bring in the punters.

    These days the young folk prefer bars (loud music, lots of background noise,bright lights, brightly coloured drinks) opposed to the traditional pub (real fire, real ales,pool table/darts board, mangey pub dog, old man in corner who never seems to leave )

    Those of us who did prefer the 'old man's pub' were driven out by the smoking ban.

    I just don't think they can be saved.

  • Comment number 17.

    "There was no need for the smoking ban. Completely separate smoking areas would have been enough. Or there could have been a option to make pubs either smoking or non-smoking and people could have decided which they were going to drink in."

    If you live in a town or city with several pubs nearby that's true. What if you don't? What if the layout of the pub is completely unsuitable for separate areas?

  • Comment number 18.

    The Government caused the problem in the first place by banning smoking in pubs and clubs!

  • Comment number 19.

    Yet again, too little too late! Stable door open, horse bolted

  • Comment number 20.

    If pubs are closing it is because they are losing customers. People's leisure habits have changed over the last decades and those establishments which can't adapt will go out of business.
    Those pubs in our area that are successful fall into two categories, pub-restaurants(some of which also provide a live music venue) and pub/clubs which target the 18-30 'let's get slaughtered this weekend crowd'.
    There is a problem for pubs in rural areas where the influx of second home owners has removed their customer base. Pubs in that situation are having a rough time. Their problem is another facet of the decline in population facing the countryside. Goernment money will only slow the decline.

  • Comment number 21.

    There's nothing in my local to get me or any of my mates through the door. It's quiet, dull and expensive. The pubs in the town and city centres have a young crowd, a bit of music and some life about them. Maybe some pubs just need to try a bit harder.

  • Comment number 22.

    Huraah for the pre-election bribe! Its just like Eatanswill out of Pickwick Papers! How stupid does this goverment think we are? (Mind you people do actually vote for them.)

  • Comment number 23.

    A certain kind of British pub does not have a future. You know the sort I mean – scruffy furniture, entertainment provided by a dartboard and a fruit machine, food on offer limited to peanuts or crisps and the whole enterprise managed by a grumpy ex serviceman.
    A few of these establishments are making a stab at survival. Many of these places add extra attractions to lure customers which they advertise on billboards outside the pub – Quiz Night Tuesday, Strippers Friday, Meat Raffle Sunday. But they belong to a bygone age so it’s only a matter of time before the call their final last orders.

    The pubs that are thriving are the ones that have turned themselves into restaurants – though some of them have a corner with comfy chairs which is regarded by common consent as the “drinkers’ area”.

    Twenty years from now the sort of pub where blokes play darts and drink pints all night will seem as dated as the Wild West saloons we see in movies. Many will say good thing too – personally I will miss the sort of down market pub you can pop into for a quick pint on the way home from work without being pestered to buy food.

  • Comment number 24.

    A lot of people seem to blame the smoking ban for the decline in pubs. I'm not convinced. I suspect that it's simply propaganda put about by the tobacco industry (who are, we should not forget, particularly skilled in the propaganda game). Personally, I go to pubs more now than I did before the smoking ban as I don't have to worry about all my clothes smelling like an ashtray when I get home.

    Instead, I see 4 main reasons for the decline in pubs:

    1. It's the economy, stupid

    2. Big corporate chain pubs have been allowed to get too much of a grip on the market. Their soul-less creations are just not the same as the traditional local.

    3. Ludicrously cheap booze sold in supermarkets that make it much cheaper to drink at home than in the pub.

    4. The decline in local communities generally. Society has been going in the direction where people are more likely to socialise with people who live large distances away than with those in the same street, thanks to things like easy telecommunications and the number of people who have to commute large distances for their work. If you don't identify with your local community, you're less likely to drink in the local pub.

    Problem No 4 is something that I doubt any government would be able to fix, but they can and should make serious efforts to tackle the first 3.

  • Comment number 25.

    If people don't want to use pubs any more why should they have a government grant to keep them open? The licenced trade has been ripping us off for years. Why didn't the government stump up a grant to keep LDV open, or Cadbury in British hands? Couldn't be that there is an election approaching could it? Triples all round! But if Labour get in again we are going to have a permanent hangover.

  • Comment number 26.

    A bit late.

    I hope their next step is to hammer the pub-co's into the ground where they belong. Punch Taverns in particular as they screw the landlords until they go out of business. Punch makes a packet charging huge fees for set-up, deposits and F&F. We had to close because non-Punch pubs were selling their beer cheaper than we could buy it through the tie.

    That's not the way to do it.

  • Comment number 27.

    the reason for the decline in community pubs is because community VALUES have declined.

    people no longer want to share a space with others, they want to spend time via meals out, or cook / entertain in their homes.

    Communication - especially mobile, instant messenger, email and social networks, means people are more up-to-date / in-touch with their friends & family than ever before. there is no 'need' for the pub for many under 35's

    add in the smoking ban, the wide availablility of cheap alcohol, a recession, pitiful public transport in rural areas, and sadly - its the perfect storm.

    the social fabric of our towns has changed, new places will emerge as focal points, but a serious decline in pubs is to be expected.

  • Comment number 28.

    My personal experience of pubs has been limited to only two.

    The first, in mid-Wales, closed down a couple of months after I moved there, in 1997, and never re-opened. I was amazed it ever had enough custom to warrant it being there in the first place, and no end of bolt-on extras could have spared its demise.

    The other is a grotty little gin-hole around the corner. It attracts the unsavoury like flies, and is only interested in Happy Hours and helping to make as much noise as possible on Friday and Saturday nights. Fortunately, I'm not within earshot of the din, but feel sorry for the people on the pub's doorstep, and I still wouldn't go near the place, even if it had a clean restaurant and other facilities. It's one of those places that ought to be shut down.

    There are, on the other hand, many well-run pubs that look as if they are welcome to everyone, of all ages. I hope that they take advantage of these latest proposals, and squeeze out the booze 'n bellow lot.

  • Comment number 29.

    My local was a buslting and thriving social center before the smoking ban. 2 weeks after it was deserted durign the week. Indeed, many city center pubs in Preston have either closed, or do not open during the week since the ban came in place. But in mainland Europe where many countries undertook the same kind of ban it has either been ignored or altered so that bars have smoking sections, unfortuantley it is teh one area in which the UK govt has it's fingers in it's ears and is going 'la la I'm not listening'. As a non-smoker I was never too bothered about the smoke in pubs, but I am bothered that when I visit a pub now it is virtually deserted where once it was a hive of chat and humour. I know there will be many posts of 'I'm gald there is no smoking in pubs now' type posts, but these are proberbly from people who visited them infrequently and not the regulars who acually supported the pubs income. We need to bring in smoking rooms\sections and maybe, just maybe, we shall see the current rate of closures level out.

  • Comment number 30.

    All the comments complaining about the smoking ban infuriate me! I have worked for 10 years in a working men's club. Not only has the smoking ban not resulted in any loss of trade but conditions for both staff and customers are much more pleasant. It is the cost of drinks, both alchoholic and soft that is destroying pubs - nothing else!

  • Comment number 31.

    What is really killing the pub industry is the pub companies themselves.

    Insisting that landlords buy stock from the pub company instead of directly from another commercial supplier drives costs up enormously. It's like renting a shop from a letting agency and then the agency tells you what products you can stock but that you have to buy the stock from their sister company as part of the rental agreement.

    How can a supermarket charge £5 for 4 bottles of beer and the pub next door will charge £12.60 for the same round? It's because they can bypass most of pub company involvement and deal directly with wholesalers and even breweries.

    My local pub is tied to a pub company and in the last year or so they've had at least four price reviews - which has inevitably added 5 or 10p on the price of my usual pint. The first review was just before the budget statement of 2009 and they put 5p on, then they had a 'summer menu review' which put another 10p on the price of my pint. Next was the half-yearly review, which was another 10p and then there was the 'VAT increase' (back to 17.5%) which was another 5p. In around 12 months my beer has gone from £2.80 a pint to £3.10 which is an astonishing 11% inflation! The price of the same beer in the supermarket has actually fallen!

    The government shouldn't be tinkering around the edges they should be conducting a full scale review of the whole pub company system. Once the anti-competetive link is broken then we may start to see something of a turnaround in the industry.

    And don't even get me started on the annual 'rent reviews'. Some of the hikes have been absolutely criminal.

  • Comment number 32.

    The minute I saw this topic, I knew for an absolute certainty that it was going to turn into a smoking-ban rant.

    Smokers: Getting all of the non-smokers who stopped going to pubs over the years (because of your stinking habbit) to come back was never going to be instant. I say this as an ex-smoker who feels guilty about the amount of my non-smoking friends who I exposed to secondary smoke over the years.

    The fact is that now that time has been allowed to pass, the rate of pub closures is slowing down to its pre-ban levels. More, in Scotland where the ban came in early, the NHS have already reported huge reductions in the amounts of patients admitted for heart-attacks as people choose to quit smoking and keep pubbing.

  • Comment number 33.

    I never learnt how to catch the barman's eye when pubs were busy. I would stand there waving my tenner whilst he or she went on serving other people. Then, like thousands of other people I discovdered that supermarkets sold alcohol at competative prices and I could drink it with my mates at home, watch TV, have a conversation, and not be looking over my shoulder for yobs who wanted a fight. Sad the pubs will go, perhaps Gordo,Mandy and Harman will find a solution.
    Perhaps doctors could be persuaded to hold their surgeries in pubs. After a few pints patients might be more willing to describe their symptoms at length.

  • Comment number 34.

    Government - stop meddling in the Country's affairs - we know how to run the Country better than you clowns!

  • Comment number 35.

    Given that this government could not organised a proverbial in a brewery without spin or lying about it, I'm not that confident.

  • Comment number 36.

    It's great that community pubs are being helped. But being a Labour government, they have to take tax and then give some back - why not reduce the pubs' costs to start with e.g. reduced business rates, reduce/remove duty on "session" drinks e.g. beer at 3% ABV or less?

  • Comment number 37.

    Just as a follow up to my earlier post (#24) about the effects of the smoking ban, here are a couple of links for anyone who is interested in looking at research evidence on the effect of smoking bans.

    There's a good paper here reviewing the literature on the effects of smoking bans on bars and restaurants (among other things). It concludes that the evidence mainly shows no negative effects from smoking bans.

    And there's a fascinating paper here that gives some insights into how the tobacco industry have been trying to manipulate the data.

    Bottom line is that the smoking ban is not responsible for the decline in pubs. If you believe otherwise, then I'm afraid you've been taken in by the tobacco industry propaganda.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think it has more to do with turning them into cafes and letting screaming kids in, than any economic or anti-smoking issues.

  • Comment number 39.

    Recommend posts #7, 16 and 18.

    Plus, many women miss the pub since the fascist smoking ban? There should be pubs or clubs where customers can smoke....

    .... Now, so many women are stuck with the old man at home with the click/hiss of ring pulls and cigarette smoke without the benefit industrial extractors!!!

    And, yes - it's true a lot of men would be happy to have an evening off from the partner too???!!

  • Comment number 40.


    Spot on. Every word. The smoking ban is a red herring in this debate.

  • Comment number 41.

    Would be interested to know if coffee shops are suffering too. Surely if it’s all about the economy their decline is in parallel? After all if times are tight why pay 2 pounds for a coffee when you can make one at home for a few pence?

    Does it really matter if pubs are declining? Maybe the British public has elected to pursue a healthier lifestyle where they go running at lunchtime instead of for a pie and a pint? Maybe this new lifestyle in 10 years will contribute to a World Cup win, invincibility in the Ashes and a 5 times Wimbledon champion?

    What? Who are you? What’s that white coat for? Leave me allllooneee!


  • Comment number 42.

    Pubs have been in this country for over one thosand years.They are an institution,British and essentially exist nowhere else.
    They are as much of our culture as Stonehenge and the Tower of London.
    No doubt,people will say they are not what people want.
    And no doubt no one has been asked.
    As ever,even if rather late,the government need to get something done.
    Or,as with many other areas,just wait they've gone altogether.

  • Comment number 43.

    I would welcome any measures that will help keep the decent real ale pubs open, but I would certainly be happy to see some of the city centre chain pubs go. To be honest, the smoking ban and astronomical tax hikes on alcohol have done nothing to boost trade in the pubs, and the smoking ban itself was largely unnecessary. My local had a "smoking room" which had two huge extractor fans on the ceiling, when they were working you couldn't even tell they were on because they were so quiet. That room had the cleanest air believable and you would never have guessed that anyone in there smoked at all. If the govt was far-sighted enough to fund that kind of air quality control, then we could have avoided the smoking ban altogether.

  • Comment number 44.

    When the smoking ban was announced, these forums were full of hateful comments from anti-smokers who would go to pubs once the "filthy smokers" were banned from them.
    How come the pubs are empty?
    Where are all these people?

  • Comment number 45.

    Good, well run pubs are busier than ever. Those that have been unable to invest or change with the times are closing.

    95% of all pub closures involve pubs that only sell beer and not food. They are easy prey for the pub chains who can undercut them at every turn.

  • Comment number 46.

    At 11:58am on 19 Mar 2010, John Sparks wrote:
    "If people don't want to use pubs any more why should they have a government grant to keep them open? The licenced trade has been ripping us off for years. Why didn't the government stump up a grant to keep LDV open, or Cadbury in British hands? Couldn't be that there is an election approaching could it? Triples all round! But if Labour get in again we are going to have a permanent hangover."

    Admittedly after the demerger of Cadbury from Schweppes they were a British Company (well almost, don't exactly know the nationality of all the shareholders), but LDV was latterly owned by the Russians.

    The Pub is a British institution and many local pubs are suffering from varying reasons:

    1. A lot of rural areas are now only partially inhabited due to second home syndrome.

    There are probably many who will disagree, but I believe that rural areas should be maintained for the community not those who outprice the locals from the housing market just so they can say they are going to the country for the weekend.

    2. The smoking ban has definitely not helped.

    Although it is understandable on health grounds, provision should be made for pubs with separate areas for smoking, we have had a very bad winter and standing outside to have a cigarette has not been a very viable option for many.

    3. Too decline in the idea of community.

    This is an issue for all of us I am afraid. Since the '80's we have been a me, me, me society and unfortunately many people don't even know their next door neighbours. Surely it's time we all tried a little harder to become part of our communities.

  • Comment number 47.

    I love a good Pub, but they are a bit of an anachronism. I don't need to go out to mingle with my friends, I don't need to go out to have a drink (and in fact I'm better off not going out because I'll probably be vomited on / punched in the mouth / put through a plate window / harrassed by tweens / sneered at by a bouncer when I'm not doing anything wrong / ignored at the bar / I could go on...), I don't need to drink to have fun, and I don't need to spend a disproportionate amount of money in order to drink and not have fun.

    Pubs haven't kept up - and ironically they should have kept up by becoming more traditional and inclusive - with those people who would have been their lifeblood (i.e. me!). They sell booze in massive quantities to already drunken youngsters in vast and soulless superpubs, but they aren't for me.

    At the other end of the spectrum we have the gastropub, where there is one table at the bar end and three quarters of the space is given over to 'service'. "That's a resteraunt with a small bar, not a pub. Where's my pub gone?" Not for me either.

    Clubs and winebars aren't pubs. Urban-chic drinkeries that used to be pubs until they got a bouncer and covered everything with chrome and pine effect chipboard aren't pubs.

    So, all I can really say is that this question comes about ten years too late and the pub is on its last legs anyway. It's terrible and I'm gutted about that because as I say, I love a good pub. I just don't know af any. There was a good one in 1998, but now they serve lasagna to businessmen and jugs of cocktails to people who are only five years or so younger than me but act like they've only just found out about drinking - it used to serve me with a pint and two twenty pence coins for the pool table.

    So I'll have a few beers with a curry instead, and watch a bit of telly with the missus. Is that some sort of reverse-snobbery? I don't think so. I used to associate pubs with peace and fun and relaxation, but now it's about dress codes, tweens drinking too much and braying bread-heads being really rather too agressive at the bar (meaning I have to wait AGAIN to be served). A pub shouldn't be a drinking factory. It should be a nice place to relax in with a group of friends and maybe a bit of pool, darts, cards or Giant Jenga. And a beer - why not?

  • Comment number 48.

    Give us a choice of smoking and non-smoking pubs, AS WE WERE PROMISED, and we'll soon see pubs thriving again.

  • Comment number 49.

    @29, Chris wrote:

    My local was a buslting and thriving social center before the smoking ban. 2 weeks after it was deserted durign the week. Indeed, many city center pubs in Preston have either closed, or do not open during the week since the ban came in place.

    Go into Whetherspoons and it is heaving with people. They have the smoking ban just the same. Many of the pubs in the centre of Preston that have closed, were to put it bluntly dumps! Little effort was made to attract new customers.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think the big pub chains are doing their bit to destroy smaller pubs in the same way that large supermarkets destroy small shops.

    I noticed this on a recent visit to one of my old haunts that had two of the popular large chain pubs. The 20 or so traditional pubs in the area were completely empty and were trying to charge £1 a pint more. They just cannot compete.

    Sadly instead of a traditional friday night pub crawl people will soon just have all the excitement of going to two fairly bland pubs owned by the same chain.

  • Comment number 51.

    Did opium dens have a future?

  • Comment number 52.

    I applaud anything that helps what used to be the hub of the community but don't think this measure will achieve much.

    The main culprits are the 'pub' companies that are really property developers. They take from landlords until they bankrupt them then move on to the next until the place finally shuts. All the while the real intention is to eventually turn the place into residences they can sell at a profit.

  • Comment number 53.

    Pubs don't need Government intervention. It was government intervention that facilitated the demise of the pub in the first place, by banning smoking and and slapping so much alcohol duty on the beer. I used to love going to the selection of decent pubs in our beautiful city, but now I stay at home and invite me friends round in stead. In order to combat the loss of custom all our old haunts have turned into a place for all the dysfunctional family to go to, with plasma screens showing foopball that nobody watches reeking, of urine and pub grub, or alternatively have closed down.

  • Comment number 54.

    I rarely go to the pub these days. As the only driver in the family, I resent overpriced soft drinks - no social engineering tax on them, yet they cost as much as a pint - while naturally wanting to keep my alcohol consumption to a sensible level even if not driving, and I hate being deserted as my smoking friends are forced outside every time they wish to indulge. Unlike some anti-smokers, I wash my hair & clothes and bathe... I never smell like an ashtray however much I consort with smokers. The advent of large TVs showing sport is also a downcheck, there is often nowhere for those who want a quiet chat to go if there's a major footie match on.

    In short, I prefer to drink at home or at a friend's house. Am I getting old?

  • Comment number 55.

    At 11:38am on 19 Mar 2010, Killer Boots Man wrote:
    I blame, at least in part, the smoking ban and the astronomical tax on alcohol. I assume there will be many others who share my opinion.

    The tax on alcohol is far too high, just like most other things people enjoy.

    There was no need for the smoking ban. Completely separate smoking areas would have been enough. Or there could have been a option to make pubs either smoking or non-smoking and people could have decided which they were going to drink in.

    One of the reasons for the smoking ban was to protect the staff from passive smoking, it's a Health and Safety requirement. You could not allow staff to serve in a smoke filled atmosphere. Even "separate areas" need to be serviced and cleaned and working in them would require special clothing etc. it's just not practicable and insurance would be a nightmare - there could be claims made years after somebody has finished working there.

    My personal view is that the traditional pub has outlived it's usefulness. Things change, people change, habits change. Restaurants that sell drinks are still doing well - many used to be pubs. Clubs and wine bars attract the young but are not the same as pubs. People would rather drink at home than pay pub prices and drinkdriving laws have had quite an effect (and rightly too!. There's no point in trying to preserve something that the majority of people dont want.

  • Comment number 56.

    p.s. As a smoker, I like the smoking ban. It's made smoking a social habit, with us all congregating outside and chatting to others that we'd never mormally have interacted with.

    There's one downside, when the sun comes out all the non-smokers now come outside and moan about us smoking out there, despite being the ones that drove us out in the first place.

  • Comment number 57.

    Barflies ruin a tavern's business. They expect a high alcohol content in the drink. Pub's that profit serve moderate level alcohol. Another point is featuring musicians with style and popularity. Customers prefer good taste and atmosphere.

  • Comment number 58.

    "14. At 11:45am on 19 Mar 2010, Rich Indeed wrote:
    I recommend comment 7."
    So do I. And comment 14 as well!
    Bring back recommendation!

  • Comment number 59.

    At 11:39am on 19 Mar 2010, DMsView wrote:
    The "government" helping the pub trade? Is someone having a laugh?

    Since the enforced smoking ban pubs have been closing at the rate of 2 a week and has the "government" looked into this or said they'd review it? No. They know what the British people want of course and they don't want smoky pubs. Perhaps smokers do!

    But smokers are about 20% of the adult population. In a democracy, then, you would expect the desires of the majority to take precedence over the minority, would you not? And the majority did not wish, any longer, to tolerate the health hazards and the personal discomfort of sitting in smoky pubs. If any other business alienated a large part of the population in order to accommodate a minority of (in fact, less affluent) customers as the pub industry had over the decades then they should expect to go out of business.

  • Comment number 60.

    The high tax, smoking ban, loud noise sometimes called music, babbys in prams, kids running arround, tied pricing,open to long, theme pubs, All the above will destroy our locals,Most of it the idea of this goverment.

  • Comment number 61.

    All it needs to stop the loss of pubs is an amendment of the smoking laws to permit pubs to designate one bar as a smoking bar with suitable ventilation and employee protection. Simple. Gordon Brown is not concerned with pubs, being a presbyterian minister's son, and only seeks to protect scotch whisky by never raising spirit duty.

  • Comment number 62.

    Who are we kidding. The kind of change to stop the decline in pubs is beyond reach. The number of significant factors is endless. The obvious ones:
    1. Smoking ban.
    2. Supermarkets selling alcohol at cost or below to claim market share
    3. Duty rates increasing at a far faster rate than inflation driving the price of a pint up and up.

    While helping out here will stem the flow, it will not stop it; there are many other issues, which are far harder to deal with.

    Commercial rents and commercial property prices are ridiculously high. Even in the recession, with all these empty pubs and high street stores they have yet to fall significantly. As a result only big companies can afford to own the pubs; killing small landlords.

    Business rates, that perpetual complaint of the small business, need to be sorted. They are significant (often about half the rent of a property), and they are a fixed cost on the business. Not like almost every other tax, which is income and sales dependent. Furthermore, you have to pay them before you have earned any money. Very unsupportive.

    And probably most significantly, and impossible to reverse is the massive social change of the past 20 years. Villages are no longer filled with people who work within the confines of the parish, towns are no longer filled with factories discouraging thousands of working men every evening, lunch down the pub while at work has almost completely disappeared, both parents work in a family, home ownership now takes up the majority of household income, most people drive to and from work, in an out of town.... the list is endless. And all of them marginalise the role of the pub.

    The impact is not just on the pub. The UK's town centres are in a serious state of decline. Live Music is in the toilet. It would seem only the poor and dispossessed now live on our town centres, as we all seek our slice of peace and quiet in the rural idyll that is England!!

    If government wants to sort this out for real, then we need a new politics, not another initiative.

  • Comment number 63.

    It'll be interesting to see how they're going to fund this, increasing duty on beer and spirits in the budget would be my guess.

  • Comment number 64.

    must be an election round the corner; Over 13 years this government has done its upmost to destroy our heritage and culture and now when it might lose the election it wants to do something maybe the idea of taxing pubs if they have a darts board etc might be put where it belongs; maybe they might realise that people like to smoke when they have a drink and do what other countries do and make it possible for pubs to accomodate them

  • Comment number 65.

    Must be an election comming......

    First they rescue the motor intustry and then the pubs....

    They launched the same prior to the last election and cut the programs weeks after returning to power

  • Comment number 66.

    Hmmm... £3.3million divided by 55,000 British pubs. That's about £60 each!!

    Anyone else ever wonder if the government sometimes makes token gestures purely for political reasons?!

    I've got a suggestion. Forget spending £97 billion on nukes we probably won't use. Put that money into things that will affect the average British citizen in their every day lives. Like local enterprise, small businesses, health and education. And not in token form!!

  • Comment number 67.

    I agree with # 7 , smoking rooms with good air conditioning would work , we used to go to a dept store cafe and the air con was so good you were hard pressed to even notice a smoker, so it could have been done , the gov were told time and again it was to draconian a rule but the pc won the day, but sadly they never pay the cost. i could not see why smoking or non smoking pubs could not have been brought in , who would argue that , leave the choice to the owner or landlord .

  • Comment number 68.

    ''Community Pubs'' ??? Does that include minimum pricing on drinks... ???
    At three pounds a pint less people are going to the pub and who can blame them. To make up for less trade the price goes up.

    Which means less people going to the pub.
    Because It's not worth it.

  • Comment number 69.

    Another PR exercise from NuLabour that does not hold up to scrutiny. Just looking at what they have done to the UK pub trade should reveal this is nothing more than a cheap attempt to get votes at the next election.

    Smoking ban was completely over the top an pandered to the self rightous tree hugging brigade. Why did they not just allocate smoking premises licenses and have clear warnings for those that entered?

    Price of beer is increasing due to ever escalting tax burden.

    Proposals to cut drink drive limit so low people won't bother to go for a pint.

    Business rates through the roof to pay for the local council fat cat wages and gold plated pensions.

    And you can bet your bottom dollar that the definition of "community pub" will not apply to 99%.

    Sorry to be so cynical but what do you expect after 13years of lies and spin....

  • Comment number 70.

    Well the problem is £2.60 a pint in a pub....To £1.30 a can. No idiots, and you can pick and choose who you drink with..

  • Comment number 71.

    Have a separate area for smokers and you will see a huge increase in profits overnight. No-one cared about smoking in pubs until the government realized they could get some more votes from the middle class, that would prefer to drink in some sterile wine bar, than mix with real people.

  • Comment number 72.

    Price of drink and rents are killing pubs. not the smoking ban.

    Market forces will work it out. When pubs are profitable again, More will open.

    I looked at opening a pub last year, a lot of pubs are in poor positions, need major firbishments or have crippling terms with the brewery. Also drinking habits have also changed, people tend to spend less time in a single pub now days. They move to clubs from around 10ish. Lastly, people move for work, so a local is no longer for life.

    The cynic in me wonders if the Parliment bar will get the subsidiy?

  • Comment number 73.

    To little to late. our pubs have been closed as a systematic destruction of our culture. The tax on alcohol played a great part and coupled with the smoking ban our village pubs did not stand a chance. Let's all remember that the Union/Labour movement started in pubs around the country (that was when people could talk before we were defend by music played to loud) with workers disgusing how to make things better.
    I loved to drink in local pubs serviced by local breweries but globalisation soon put pay to those as brewery after brewery were bought by conglomerates and closed in some costcutting exercise. Thriving before and dead after.
    This is what Thatcher wanted. No society, individuals opening cans/bottles of foreign drink. Sitting in front of the telly brainwashed and oblivious to what is happening around them. Oh but if we take the tax off alcohol we will drink too much and then it will cost business in time off work and health issues, again brain washed into thinking we are unable to drink sensible by a dictatorial nanny state, who think of us as the herd, instead of the great people we really are.

  • Comment number 74.

    Very sad, another British institution for hundreds of years brought to its knees by the current bunch of greedy, lying, slimy, hateful incompetents. They are okay though, the House of Parliament bar is subsidised by taxpayers and I am sure beer can be bought there cheaply by the troughful.

  • Comment number 75.

    In my town centre the local police tested all the pubs for the presence of cocaine residue on the toilets and sinks. Out of 50 pubs 49 turned positive...The 50th is the one that I use. Scruffy carpet, old newspapers and magazines, fifties decor, no Juke box or gaming machines. But the best pint of beer in the Town

  • Comment number 76.

    Quite frankly I couldn't care less if pubs close. If they close it is because people are not using them. That's market forces for you and applies to all businesses. Why should a pub be any different? I have been into plenty of pubs that are full and apparently thriving. These usually provide something the majority want and are not dingy little boozers that were once smoke filled. Do not use the smoking ban as an excuse. There is a place set aside for smoking. It is called outside. Get over it or quit! If communities want to keep their pubs then they should use them, regardless of whether or not they have to stand outside in order to give themselves cancer.

  • Comment number 77.

    I like to go to the pub but one thing that puts me off going to some pubs is excessively loud music. I like to be able to sit with a pint and have a conversation with my companions rather than have to yell to make myself heard.

    On no, I am not an old person, I am still in my twenties

  • Comment number 78.

    Personally, I find pubs a lot more pleasant and inviting now that smoking is banned and I don't have to leave a pub smelling of Nicotine.

  • Comment number 79.

    My friends and I pretty much stopped going to pubs for several reasons.

    1. Smoking Ban, although I don't smoke lots of my friends do and being forced to spend the majority of time outside drastically reduced their enjoyment. It was also quite dull for me, having to choose between being bored inside or cold outside.

    2. Prices, the cost of drinks has escalated quite dramatically over the past few years to the point where it is now much cheaper to just keep some beers in the house.

    3. Every pub is now 'Gastro', honestly I don't care about what type of amazing fusion cooking you're doing, it's a pub, steak and chips will be fine if I want a pub lunch.

    4. Children, all the pubs going 'family friendly'. I don't want my pub to be family friendly I want it to be a place I can go and not be hassled by other peoples kids.

    Those are the things that need to be addressed to save the great British pub.

  • Comment number 80.

    At 11:58am on 19 Mar 2010, John Sparks wrote:
    "If people don't want to use pubs any more why should they have a government grant to keep them open? The licenced trade has been ripping us off for years. Why didn't the government stump up a grant to keep LDV open, or Cadbury in British hands? Couldn't be that there is an election approaching could it? Triples all round! But if Labour get in again we are going to have a permanent hangover."

    Well, don't expect the Tories to step in to "save" a future LDV or Cadbury's! State run, or subsidised, vehicle manufacturing has not been policy by any government (or leading party) for 20 years. I don't think state controlled chocolate manufacturing has been the policy of any politiacl party ever. Certainly, state run pubs are not someting the taxpayer should be supporting.

    Your post can't seem to decide whether your objections to this government are because they're too solicialist or not socialist enough!

  • Comment number 81.

    I'm sorry that the good ol' fashioned British Pub is slowly but surely going the way of the dinoaurs but... times change, booze is cheaper elsewhere and I'm not that bothered enough to prop up a business model that cannot compete with 21st century living.

    If I could stop my tax pounds propping up that model I'd be even happier.

  • Comment number 82.

    No, they don't. Anyway, it's abit rich for the government to say they are going to support them, given they did much of the damage.

    The smoking ban did most damage. Why we couldn't have smoking and non-smoking pubs, I'll never understand- and I speak as an ex-smoker. High taxes (which to be fair have always been there) do not help.

    Soon all the local pubs will be gone and we'll be left with the big chains and the city centre barn pubs. And then everyone will moan.

    It's going to be just the same as the way local shops disappeared due to the rise of the supermarket chains.

    Support your local shops and pubs or don't moan when they are gone.

  • Comment number 83.

    Just more proof if needed that our politicians dont have a clue as to what damage their actions cause, its because of this governebent the pub industry is in a downwards spiral.
    Yet they now propose to save the british pub please dont make me laugh..

  • Comment number 84.

    Well, considering that the Labour party has done just about everything it can to close as many pubs as possible, I think it's highly unlikely that they will go back on the stuff they've done.

    (remember, a pub means that people can talk to each other, and when people talk they might have dangerous magical thoughts such as voting for a change of government... much better for them to stay at home and watch x factor)

  • Comment number 85.

    I cant say I care if they do shut.

    The times ive been is pubs, I just see men who should be at home engaging in their kids instead of talking nonsense with other like minded men.

    All smiles in the pub and a tyrant when they get home.

    Call me an old fashioned dad?

  • Comment number 86.

    At 1:08pm on 19 Mar 2010, cartwright wrote:
    must be an election round the corner; Over 13 years this government has done its upmost to destroy our heritage and culture and now when it might lose the election it wants to do something maybe the idea of taxing pubs if they have a darts board etc might be put where it belongs; maybe they might realise that people like to smoke when they have a drink and do what other countries do and make it possible for pubs to accomodate them

    You mean like much of the USA, Ireland and several EU countries that, like the UK, have banned smoking inside?

    As for "maybe they might realise that people like to smoke when they have a drink", you need to realise that about 80% of the population DO NOT wish to do that and do not wish to eat or drink in a smoky atmosphere, risk their health and smell like an ashtray afterwards.

  • Comment number 87.

    Labour have spent 13 years closing down all of a sudden they want to save them...there's not an election coming is there???

    they'll be saving the post offices next!

  • Comment number 88.

    Increasing the tax on alcohol clearly had no impact at all, or the smoking ban.

    This government is comprised of people who do not understand the concept of consequences - they increase tax and then wonder why people aren't spending money.

    We dont have MPs expenses which are exempt from tax - that's why!

  • Comment number 89.

    We have a Pubs Minister? Good grief!

    The whole pub business needs to up its game. All the pubs near me in NW London are aimed at, and full of, either teenagers or Asians. I am neither.

    Most have filthy toilets, dire food (apart from the curries in the Asian pubs), consider a weekly trivia quiz to be innovative, and generally end the evening with a punch up.

    No thanks.

  • Comment number 90.

    #22. At 11:54am on 19 Mar 2010, Edwin Schrodinger wrote:
    Huraah for the pre-election bribe! Its just like Eatanswill out of Pickwick Papers! How stupid does this goverment think we are? (Mind you people do actually vote for them.)

    #34. At 12:17pm on 19 Mar 2010, Doc Home wrote:
    Government - stop meddling in the Country's affairs - we know how to run the Country better than you clowns!


    Why do some HYS'ers have to be so condescending and insulting, surely there are enough words in the English language you can use to describe your opinion. People who vote for the Labour party are not stupid, and the Government are not clowns.

    Getting back to the original question, yes I do think the British Pub has a future if it is allowed to diversify. There are many tied pubs in the country which are having a tough time of it, and if the Government could bring in a measure to "untie" them so to speak, I am sure that would help.

    The fact that there is a recession on, and that supermarkets are allowed to sell drink cheap is what I feel is exacerbating the situation.

  • Comment number 91.

    I chiefly blame the large pub companies, who force tenants to buy their beer at inflated prices, and charge huge rents which increase year after year.
    If the publican owned the pub, his mortgage would be generally constant (and then zero when it was paid off) - not increasing ad infinitum.
    Not to mention that a free house can sell a wider (and better) selection of beers - something that the breweries would obviously want to prevent!

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    Its so typically a UK problem. I have collegues who said they didn't go to the pub because it was smokey. I used to smoke and went 2 or 3 times a week. They said that when the smoking ban came in they would go more. Did they... no - just the usual sunday lunch time roast time once a month. A better compromise could have been made on smoking, but the angry people of the UK with 2 darlings didn't want that. Lot of middle england, telling others what to do these days.

  • Comment number 94.

    Ban ten million smokers from our pubs and they are all closing now.

    The only thing that suprises me is that there are still any pubs left open at all.

    Why didn't nanny leave proprieters to make up their own minds whether to allow smoking or not,I mean who is supoposed to own all our free houses,nanny?

  • Comment number 95.

    Perhaps they should licence pubs to sell cannabis.

    After all it has been proven as less harmful and less addictive than alcohol. At chucking out time the landlord may have to wake the customers up, but he won't have to break up fights.

  • Comment number 96.

    Pubs moan about people drinking at home, or cheap booze from supermarkets but the problem is they simply have not moved with the times. People want to drink at home for comfort. Pubs need to offer it.

    Weatherspoons is doing huge business as they recognise that comfort, family, no low music, cheap food and the price of beer and drink matters.

    Why can't the others get that into their heads and stop blaming everyone else for their failings and offer them soemthing that their customers want.

  • Comment number 97.

    It's not just the high cost of alcohol and the smoking ban to blame. The Government needs to take action against Councils who think it's justfied to raise rates for some licensed premises by up to 120%. No wonder landlords have had enough. I'm assuming the recent rise in our local (15p on a pint for example)is to cover some of the increased costs.

    For many of the older generation a weekly trip to the pub for a blether with their mates to talk about old times is now fincially out of the question. We can still afford a pint but like many have cut down on the number of drinks we consume on each visit to the pub. Will the high cost to the consumer and lanlords eventually see the total death of a great British institutiuon.

    There's not much profit for the big boys from empty or closed pubs!!

  • Comment number 98.

    Lightening reactions Nu-Lab 40 pubs per week shutting since the smoking ban, not applicable in Parliamentary bars. Presumably they have a different type of bar staff immune to passive smoking!
    What are they offering business advice and where does this “business advice” come from? GovUK, looking at the state of the economy if these advisers are capable of helping a pub against the double double whammys of govUK economic incompetence we’d be better off having them run the economy!

  • Comment number 99.

    Big problem here with the Mega-Pubs being able to sell beer cheaper than the "Local" landlord can buy it. The smoking ban didn't help, that should have been left to the Landlords discretion - he knows his customers and they should have had the option; smoking or non-smoking pub. Alcohol is available much more cheaply in Supermarkets. Food will always make a good profit therefore that only leaves the social side of the pub. A good, popular landlord will always have a good, popular pub but with dwindling available cash to spend on nights out, only the best pubs will survive.

  • Comment number 100.

    The ONLY measure that will get me back into a pub is a repeal of the smoking ban.


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