Pubs must diversify to survive

PUB owners are today being urged to raise their game and offer more community services if they want to survive.

PUB owners are today being urged to raise their game and offer more community services if they want to survive.

Suffolk County Council is urging rural pub owners to consider expanding their businesses - and said a cash boost of up to �5,000 is available under the Suffolk Rural Economy Scheme.

The cash could help landlords diversify their business to include services such as a grocery or newsagents to serve their local community.

Last year twenty of the county's pubs were forced to call time for good.

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Dr Wil Gibson, chief executive of rural charity Suffolk Acre, said: “We don't want to see pubs close because they are vital to the well being of village life.

“I think we need to raise our game. I would like to see pubs run with more of a community angle to them - they need to diversify their services.”

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Dr Gibson said pubs could be used in a number of ways including providing lunch clubs for the elderly or meals on wheels from their kitchen.

The scheme - run in partnership with the national Pub is the Hub initiative - is also open to village stores and community projects and will provide grants up to 50 per cent of the project costs.

Project manager Iain Dunnett, from Suffolk County Council, said: “There is no doubt rural pubs are coming under more pressure and what we want to do - where possible - is bring village services together on to one premises.

“The scheme is still in its early days but by the summer hopefully between half a dozen and a dozen pubs will have picked up on it.

“Even before the economic downturn I think pubs had to diversify - and now it is even more important.

N For more information or to receive an application form for the Suffolk Rural Economy Scheme contact Yvonne Moores, business development officer at the county council, on 01473 264827 or email .

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