New Year but same fears for Suffolk pubs

BELEAGUERED landlords today offered a gloomy forecast for Suffolk's struggling pub industry in 2009.

BELEAGUERED landlords today offered a gloomy forecast for Suffolk's struggling pub industry in 2009.

In the last 12 months, a number of the county's watering holes have called last orders amid stiff competition from supermarkets, increased duty on alcohol and the crippling effects of the smoking ban.

And now, struggling publicans are bleakly predicting that more bars, pubs and clubs will go to the wall in 2009.

Despite an upturn in trade over the festive season, one landlord representative described the industry's predicament as “dire, dire, dire”.

Shaun De Silva, landlord of the Brewers Arms in Orford Street, Ipswich, and chairman of Ipswich Bar Watch, said: “From the landlords I have spoken to, the Christmas period is down on last year but a lot better than before the festive season.

“However, it's still very tough for the pub trade and I think more will go to the wall in the next few months - it's going to be dire, dire, dire.”

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Val Bint, landlady at the Steamboat Tavern in New Cut West, Ipswich, said she had been running at a loss and urged the breweries and the government to act before it is too late.

“We're down to the bone and unless the rent is reduced, I can't carry on,” she said.

“Consumption since the smoking ban was introduced is down 22 per cent but my rent has gone up by 55pc in the same period.

“People are now buying alcohol from supermarkets, drinking at home and coming out and spending less in bars and clubs - and to be honest, I don't blame them.”

Mr De Silva urged drinkers to use their local boozer - or face losing it for good.

“We are trying to provide a community service, but without the community we can't offer a service,” he said.

Nationally, 27 pubs close every day, while campaign group Camra claims the average punter will be forking out �5 for a pint by the time the Olympics come to London in 2012.

In Ipswich alone, The Silver Star, The Great White Horse and The Old Bell - reputedly the town's oldest pub - have all shut down in recent months.

Meanwhile, an investigation by The Evening Star in November revealed that 100 of Ipswich's pubs had closed in living memory.

Can Suffolk's pub trade be saved? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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