Death of the pub as they close at rate of two a day

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The pub trade is in bad shape and with the rate of closure now at two a day then it doesn't look like getting better any sooner.

A deserted and boarded-up former watering hole, meeting spot, gossip pit or just a place to escape for a few hours is a depressing and familiar site right across the country.

But no-one seems that interested in doing much about it.
And it's those pubs which are tied to a company that are closing down at double the rate of free public houses. They've got no option but to buy beer from their overlords, paying up to 45% more than their competitors who buy on the open market, according to the Campaign for Real Ale.

Since 2008, that means 3,216 tied pubs have fallen by the wayside.

Discount booze
Of course, there are other factors that have affected the pub trade. There's the smoking ban, tighter drink driving laws, the large supermarkets and their discount booze and probably the most significant, the level of taxes on alcohol which account for up to 75% of its price at the tap.

The Save the British Pub campaign is calling for a reduction in VAT on pub booze down to 5% in a bid to make it more affordable and they want the smoking ban relaxed so that landlords can decide if they are to allow patrons to puff away in peace in dedicated rooms.

None of this will happen in reality as the anti-smoking lobby is a powerful one and cutting revenue is simply not an option for the government in this age of austerity.

In some places, however, the patrons of pubs facing closure are actually clubbing together to buy the place themselves. In Crosby Ravensworth, up near Penrith in Cumbria, the 300 village residents clubbed together to buy their local, The Butchers Arms, and re-opened it as a co-operative.

At £300,000 the local community considers it a good investment.

It might prove more than that. It's such a good, simple idea that I'm surprised PM Dave Cameron and his Big Society posse haven't nicked the whole idea and turned it into government policy.

There's still time for that, I guess.

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