All hands to pumps to save pubs

THROUGH the years the local pub has been a focal point for many communities – but now the tide is turning. Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale, predicts that 30 years ahead pubs could be in short supply.

THROUGH the years the local pub has been a focal point for many communities – but now the tide is turning. Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale, predicts that 30 years ahead pubs could be in short supply. MARK BULSTRODE asked two pub-lovers and a landlord what they thought of Camra's predictions and looks at some of the pubs we have supped in and lost.

FOR 65-year-old Peter Catton an afternoon in his local pub is chance have a chat and meet up with some of his mates.

During the past 30 years Peter has been a familiar face down his local – The Grand Old Duke of York, on Woodbridge Road, Ipswich.

It has become something of a way of life and he regularly enjoys a quiet afternoon bitter while "having a natter".

But if predictions made by Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale, are correct, then this whole way of life could become a thing of the past within the next 30 years.

They claim that by 2032, 60pc of beer will be drunk at home with punters effectively priced out of pubs.

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Despite these predictions, Peter is confident that the pubs will survive but expects their numbers to be reduced.

"I expect the pubs will survive but there will be fewer of them, he said. "So many of them are turning into houses and restaurants now.

"I think it costs far more to drink in a pub than it should do. We all know you can go abroad and buy alcohol far cheaper but it is not the same as coming in the pub is it?

"You come in, meet the locals – and I have got a couple of mates who work nearby and they come here at lunch times. It's a good meeting place."

Ken Fayers, 65, of Court Farm, Brantham, has been drinking in the Tattingstone White Horse for around ten years and in pubs for most of his adult life.

He is also confident that pubs will survive but says it depends on what type people are around in 2032.

"If there are people like us around in 30 years time then pubs will be ok, he said. "But if they are all at home playing on the computer then there won't be any pubs left."

Ken does think that pubs have deteriorated in recent years and believes he knows the reason.

"I like a pub where I can go in and have a bit of banter and a chat and then put the worlds to right before going home.

"Some people turn them into restaurants but the key is to keep it as a pub for socialising," he added.

The sight of pubs that had once been the centre of communities turning into private homes has become increasingly common in Suffolk over the years.

Three years ago the Tattingstone White Horse nearly joined this ever-growing list before being rescued by an Evening Star campaign.

Landlord Dave Yeomans has since seen his business flourish but believes the number of people commuting into London from Suffolk has had an impact on the number of pub-goers.

He said: "There is a lot of people moving in who commute into London everyday so the last thing they want to do when they come home is to go to the pub.

"But people do need a place to get together and it is important to local people – that was shown three years ago when our pub nearly closed."

What do you think of the prospect that pubs as we know them could disappear? And what are your favourite memories of pubs that have been lost?

Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30, Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or fax 01473 225296. Or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Fastfacts:

Camra claims that by 2032:

There will be just two major brewers producing two beer brands each.

Two big pub chains will control over half of all pubs with an increase in themed indentikit bars.

Nearly 8,000 local community pubs will have closed, many having been turned into private houses.

Of all the beer drunk, 60 per cent of it will be drunk at home, with people enjoying a pint in 'virtual pubs' from the comfort of their arm chairs.

There will be an increase of 40pc (to 600) in the number of small specialised breweries selling real ales, but with a tiny share of the total market.

A pint of beer will cost £25.

Source: Camra.

www.camra.org/

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