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Results tagged “pubs” from Sunday Mercury - Toby Jugg

Pub closures in the Midlands are rocketing after beer sales hit their lowest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s, industry experts warn.

A staggering 417 boozers have shut in the region since 2001 - and the figures look set to rise as the economy heads towards recession.

The 400 year-old Mother Huff Cap pub in Great Alne, Alcester, Warwickshire, has recently closed its doors after being hit by a lack of trade.

Villager Sarah Townsend, 41, has lived next door for nearly 10 years and blamed lease-holders Punch Tavern as well as the credit crunch, rising beer prices and the smoking ban.

She claims that the brewers had not provided the refurbishment or support that was promised to the string of landlords over the past four years.

In an angry letter to Punch Taverns she said: "The residents of Great Alne are very proud of their village and are at their wits' end with the situation.

"What should be a focal point of our village is instead a blot on the landscape."

But in a letter sent to Peter Bostock, Chairman of Great Alne Parish Council, Punch Taverns said the reason the pub had to close was down to lack of trade from the community.

However, in a statement to the Sunday Mercury the company said it hoped to reopen the business, with a new landlord, as early as this Friday.

It added: "We recently spent £25,000 on structural repairs. The new licensees also have plans to develop and refurbish the property."

Last week, it was also revealed that the once-popular Bar Sport Midland chain, which had venues in Cannock, Walsall, Rugby and Lancashire, had gone into administration.

Despite pumping over £4 million pounds into his firm over the past 18 months, owner Scott Murray admitted he had struggled to stay afloat.

He part-blamed England's failure to qualify for the Euro 2008 football tournament for the company crash.

"It just hasn't worked out for us," Mr Murray said "We are looking at a number of different options now as to how to move forward."

Research shows that there are now 9,849 pubs in the Midlands, compared to the 10,266 that existed seven years ago.

Nationally, the figure has dropped from 60,000 to just under 57,500.

Experts have blamed flagging numbers of pub-goers on the crippling credit crunch, combined with the rocketing price of a pint - with punters paying close to £4 in some parts of the Midlands.

British Beer and Pub Association Chief Executive Rob Hayward said: "Beer sales are on the slide and tax increase in the budget has made it worse. This is hitting Britain's brewers and pubs hard. "

Drinkers are getting more value for money at the supermarket where the tax revenue from sales is over 50p-per-pint less than the pub, according to Ashley Cairns, of brewery marketing research firm CGA Strategy.

He added "pre-loading" was also on the increase - where people drink at home before they go out.

If you're looking to share a dippy holiday day out with a spooky blond ... let the train take the strain.

First Transpennine Express have launched a special 'Real Ale Trail' deal linking journeys to nine inviting real ale pubs in easy walking distance from their Lakes Line stations.

And, as a special bonus for rail travellers, there are special discounts vouchers on food and beers at some of the Lake District's finest scenic venues.

The rail operator has linked with the Westmorland branch of the Campaign for Real Ale to share the delights of key pubs and a chance to visit other attractions - without using the car.

And they guarantee the pubs - with one exception - are not further than five minutes' staggering distance from stations which include Windermere, Staveley, Burneside, Kendal and Oxenholme.

For example, you could sample a pint of Blond Witch at the Station Inn, Oxenholme, or try a feisty pint of Lakeland Gold at Kendal's Riverside Hotel.

The Greys Inn, Windermere, promises a wide range of beers with regularly-changing guest ales and The Eagle & Child in Staveley serves up a sparkling range of northern micro-breweries.

A First Rail spokesperson said: "The idea is already proving extremely popular with holidaymakers who are looking for a really different day out.

"The close proximity of the pubs and other attractions to the rail stations themselves makes this a very attractive day out or short break option."

A free Real Ale Trail brochure listing all the pubs, opening times and facilities, is available from most railway stations in Northern England but for more information, prices, and to book tickets, visit: www.tpexpress.co.uk

Authors

Toby Jugg

Toby Jugg - A former newspaper reporter, Steve Green now works as a freelance journalist and technical writer. He first joined the Campaign for Real Ale in the mid-1980s and currentlyproduces a regular column for Solihull CAMRA in the Solihull Times, under the pseudonym "Toby Jugg".

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