December 22 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Fears are mounting over the future of Suffolk’s pubs after it was revealed around 100 landlords have been driven out of business in the county in the last five years.
But the warning comes amid positive signs for the brewing industry after the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) revealed, in its Good Beer Guide 2014 unveiled today, that 18 new breweries were established in East Anglia last year – bringing the figure up to 119.
The news provoked a mixed response from industry insiders, who branded the demise of local pubs which have served communities for hundreds of years as a “tragedy”.
But the Good Beer Guide moved to pay tribute to communities who have rallied to protect their local pubs from unchecked development by using special powers introduced under the Localism Act to ensure the building cannot be sold without the group being given the opportunity to bid.
Since the law came into effect in September last year, 17 “community assets” have been registered across the county, including five pubs.
And last night Nigel Smith, area organiser for Suffolk CAMRA, issued a clarion call to residents to save their local watering hole after painting an uncertain future.
“In Suffolk we have currently lost about 100 pubs in the last five years with over half – possibly up to two thirds – of them unlikely to ever trade again,” he warned.
“Some of these ventures were historic inns and beer houses with long histories of serving their local community.
“Pubs offer a focus for the community but rapidly changing social patterns, poor management and lack of investment by some of the large pub owning companies, fierce competition from local supermarkets, higher taxation and legislation from national governments, and very poor financial returns for many hard working landlords have all conspired in recent years to call time on too many houses.
“It has been a tragedy for many local pubs.”
A total of 44 pubs alone closed in the East of England between September 2012 and March 2013, the latest figures show, according to research company CGA Strategy.
Steve Sims, owner of Mauldons Brewery in Church Field Road, Sudbury, said it was vital both economically and socially to preserve the “rich heritage” of pubs, insisting the future for smaller brewers lied in investing in their own on-site pubs.
“Just because a national chain can’t save a pub doesn’t mean a local person can’t,” he said.
“Communities who rally together to save their pub are to be applauded – but they can’t just open their doors. It needs to be affordable and attractive. The community has to be involved and take ownership of it.”
He added: “We are seeing a lot of breweries coming on to the scene, which is healthy for the industry, but I am certain there will be more closures. There isn’t enough to go around.
“If brewers want to sell bottles of beers at farmers’ markets on a Sunday that is their own choice, but my advice is for smaller brewers to set up a pub on site and attract people to it.”
Roger Protz, editor of the Good Beer Guide 2014, said with more breweries comes “greater choice for the drinker and more opportunities to buy locally produced brews”.
Elveden Ales - a timely booster for industry
A beer brewer has recognised the role of women in the industry and called for more to get involved.
Frances Nicholls, 28, has been making beer with her father Brendan Moore for their company Elveden Ales, based near Thetford, since 2004.
According to the editor of Camra’s Good Beer Guide 2014, female brewers, or “brewsters”, are helping to attract new drinkers.
Mrs Nicholls said: “Originally it was women who brewed it as it was part of a woman’s role.
“It’s mainly seen as something men do because there’s so many of them doing it.
“But more women should have an interest in it as it’s a creative activity. We try and keep everything local – local produce, local ingredients, and our main sales are through the Elveden Estate shop.”
Elveden Ales sells its own brewed ale and stout but has in the past made special beer for one-off occasions.