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More support needed to keep Ipswich pubs open after two close in July, association warns

PUBLISHED: 19:00 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:41 12 July 2017

The Mulberry Tree in Ipswich is the latest closure. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The Mulberry Tree in Ipswich is the latest closure. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

A leading pub association has warned that more needs to be done to protect Ipswich's pubs, after two establishments have closed within the last 11 days.

The Grand Old Duke of York in Woodbridge RoadThe Grand Old Duke of York in Woodbridge Road

Yesterday, the Ipswich Star reported the Grand Old Duke of York in Woodbridge Road had closed its doors.

Now, it has emerged that the Mulberry Tree, also in Woodbridge Road, has been put up for sale by its owner Des Scicluna.

The pair follows other recent closures, including The Brewery Tap in Cliff Lane in March, Pump and Grind in Great Colman Street shortly before Christmas and Bears Bowling bar in October.

But town leaders have said Ipswich’s pubs are vital to its nighttime economy.

The Brewery Tap closed its doors in March 2017. Picture: PHIL MORLEYThe Brewery Tap closed its doors in March 2017. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said: “Pubs not only contribute to the local economy, they are often important cultural assets in the community.

“Ipswich has a wide variety of old and new pubs, each with its own distinct character, and we hope that the closure of these latest businesses proves to be only temporary.”

Full planning permission is now needed to convert a pub into something else, instead of a change of use application needed previously, in a bid to help keep pubs active.

It is not yet clear why those behind the Duke of York and Mulberry Tree have shut their doors, but the British Beer and Pub Association has warned more needs to be done to protect them.

Bears Bowling Club remains empty following its closure in October. Picture: CONNOR MCLOONEBears Bowling Club remains empty following its closure in October. Picture: CONNOR MCLOONE

Neil Williams, spokesman for the group, said: “Pubs are facing big pressures this year with things like the national living wage and apprenticeship levels – they are good initiatives but adding to the bottom line for pubs.

“We had a big increase in bar duty in the budget and business rates have been a big issue – a lot are citing that as the reason.”

Mr Williams said bars and pubs are increasingly having to offer more and more to bring people in such as food selections, craft ales, gigs,charity fundraisers, events, as well as embrace social media.

“The days of people drifting into the pub as a normal end of the day thing are to some extent in the past,” he said.

Pump and Grind was forced to close in December. Picture: DAVE VINCENTPump and Grind was forced to close in December. Picture: DAVE VINCENT

“Pubs have to work harder because you have more options these days, not least staying in which has become entertainment.

“There is no doubt that bringing people in requires a lot of hard work.”

Plough reopening, Ipswich
Landlady Michelle Bird. 

icture: JASON BYEPlough reopening, Ipswich Landlady Michelle Bird. icture: JASON BYE

Mr Scicluna declined the opportunity to comment.

Case study: How The Plough is keeping busy

The Plough, in Dog's Head Street, Ipswich re-opened after a refurbishment. Picture: DAVE VINCENTThe Plough, in Dog's Head Street, Ipswich re-opened after a refurbishment. Picture: DAVE VINCENT

Following its recent revamp, popular Ipswich pub The Plough has said its community-ethos is key to bringing people in, and crucially helping bring people back in regularly.

A spokeswoman from the pub, which is run by Stonegate Pub Company, said: “We’ve been here for 19 years so are really embedded into the community and understand what brings people together in pubs – sports, value led food, daily offers, entertainment and fundraising for causes that are close to people’s hearts.

“We have recently been refurbished which obviously helps, and as part of that we’ve took opportunity to stay on trend with new products such as craft ale and cocktail bowls.

“Not all pubs are community led but those that are probably have a stronger place in today’s society than they might have done in recent years – local people want to come together to support one another.”

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