Close Menu

Pub closures county-by-county

As beer taxes threaten the future of the pub industry, we run through the 10 areas which have lost the most pubs in the past six months.

The rising cost of beer is creating a “serious” problem claims Tim Martin the JD Wetherspoon chief, as it means that pub companies are concentrating their openings in well-off areas where people can afford the higher prices.

He said that this is causing “serious economic problems” in less affluent parts of the country. Calculations by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) at the start of the year found pubs that serve as community hubs can generate between £20,000 and £120,000 of “social value” each year.

“The overall level of taxes have greater economic effect in less affluent parts of the UK. The result is that the majority of prominent pub and catering companies are investing in the southern part of the UK and in major towns and city centres elsewhere.” Martin said.

Using CAMRA pub closure research – six month breakdown – undertaken by CGA Strategy, the drinks business has compiled the worst 10 counties.

The research shows suburban and rural areas have suffered most from closures while city centres have proved resilient. In total 300 pubs closed between September 2011 and March 2012, equivalent to 12 a week.

CAMRA said that pubs have been hit by a 42% increase in beer duty since 2008 and give this as the main reason for the closures.

In the six months to March 2012 Lancashire, Derbyshire and West Yorkshire lost heavily. Nottinghamshire and Merseyside both gained 15, but they are a rarity.

These figures are not a surprise since Britain’s pubs have seen a 6% fall in beer sales in the first quarter of 2012, the BBPA said, though this is at least a smaller decline than in the previous four years. The group emphasises that almost a million jobs depend on the UK beer and pub sector.

The following pages are a county by county breakdown showing the number of pubs that have been lost in Britain’s counties over a six month period from September 2011– March 2012.

10. Hertfordshire: -10

The Pelican pub in Letchworth GC closed its doors

Hertfordshire lies between Bedfordshire in the north, Cambridgeshire in the north-east, Buckinghamshire in the west, Essex in the east and central London only 12 miles to the south. The county covers approximately 630 square miles.

Pub closures have, however, become a common sight. On the lost pubs of Hertfordshire website it lists a total of 329 lost pubs. A worrying trend in the county is that larger supermarket chains are beginning to buy up pub sites and the freehold lease, leaving local independent shops also fighting for their survival.

Even the introduction of celebrity chef like Jean-Christophe Novelli can’t save some Herfordshire pubs, as gastropub The White Horse was closed last year by owners Urban and Country Leisure Limited (UCL).

9. Cumbria, Dyfed, Suffolk: -12

Cumbria, Suffolk and Dyfed has suffered from the north-south divide expressed by Tim Martin. They have seen 12 pubs each close in their counties in a six month period.

Dyfed has seen police stations and school closures and cutbacks as the rural area suffers from the recession.

People are rallying around their local pubs in these areas though, as seven regulars at a pub in Lidgate, Suffolk, teamed up to purchase the freehold from Greene King.

The Star was at risk of closing following the retirement of the previous landlord and landlady, but the 16th century property is now in the hands of the consortium.

Better news for Suffolk is that the Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge have put another pub – The Crown at Westleton on the map – after staying there following a wedding of Catherine’s friend.

The Royal couple stayed in the swan room and since then there re has been a huge demand from people to stay there with phones said to be “off the hook”.

8.  Kent, Cheshire, Dorset: -16 

John Robinson of Cheshire brewery Robinsons and Emma Bellis

In Kent, tax hikes and the Labour government have been blamed for the fall in pubs. Back in 2010 it was reported that 210 Kent pubs went out of business during the Labour government’s 13 years in office.

People in Dorset are getting mobile about pub closures as they have set up The Community Alert on Pubs group.

Based in West Dorset, more than 150 people attended a meeting to voice their concerns about the number of pubs at risk in the region.

Group leader John Grantham declared it was a “monumental evening”. He said: “Everyone involved has such a feeling of exhilaration now as we feel we have broken through to the point where people’s feelings have been expressed finally.”

Something similar is stirring in Cheshire as the Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has received more than 100 letters of objection to the proposed development at the Headless Woman pub in Duddon.

Better news is that Cheshire brewery Robinsons has been congratulated on its success in raising awareness of the high standard of Cheshire’s pub dining scene.

Emma Bellis, commercial development manager at Visit Chester & Cheshire explained: “Robinson’s Brewery has really raised the bar in helping to promote high quality Cheshire produce through its award-winning ales.”

7. South Yorkshire: -17

  1. South Yorkshire has been badly hit by a wave of pub closures, according to the CAMRA data between September and March 17 pubs were closed in the region.

    On social media a “Closed Pubs Project” has been launched where people are encouraged to take photographs of closed pubs for each day of the year. In the past six months 17 pubs have been added to that list.
    One of the pubs included in this project is the Parkway Tavern in Sheffield, which was featured in the television series toughest pubs in Britain.
    The area where the Parkway Tavern was is currently undergoing regeneration by UrbanSplash, which has taken down four pubs in the area in total.

6. Surrey: -18 

The scale of pub closures in Surrey can be summed up by the story behind the closing of a village pub in Woodham, near West Byfleet. The Victoria has closed twice in previous years and the reason the last pub landlord left was because of cheap supermarket alcohol.

The century old pub couldn’t compete with cheaper alcohol prices in shops nearby.

Most recently the pub has been opened again and has won two “Marques of Excellence” for its beer, but it faces a new threat now according to CAMRA with the high beer tax levels.

There have been moves to help pubs in areas like Surrey by introducing online pub guides. East and North Surrey both have them and it is hoped other CAMRA branches will continued updating these guides.

The guides are written by local CAMRA branches and usually cover all pubs in the selected areas, with recommendations going to those pubs that serve the best Real Ales.


5. Derbyshire: -20

Federation of Small Businesses

In Derbyshire, local MP’s have become involved in the pub closures debate as things don’t seem to be improving as CAMRA report 20 pubs in the region have closed in a period of 6 months.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has been critical of the Government as he blames pub closures on the fact that pub tenancies are signed with beer supply included. This means struggling landlards cannot look around for the cheapest wholesale drinks proces.

He called for a statutory code to protect pub tenants and ensure companies offer landlords the chance to sign tenancies without tied beer supply. so they can look for the cheapest wholesale drinks prices.

He said: “Pubs play a vital role in communities across Britain in villages, towns and cities. They also contribute hugely to the Government’s tax revenues and employ hundreds of thousands of people”

This is argument is backed up by The Federation of Small Businesses, which says that a revised code of practice should be put in place to help tenants who were being crippled by the high rents and beer prices charged by pub companies.

4. West Yorkshire: -21

The rate of pub closures in West Yorkshire has improved from statistics in 2010, but they are still hitting local communities hard and it is difficult to explain why.

Greene King has a number of pubs for tenacy on its website and it paints a very good picture of the region.

“West Yorkshire encompasses much of the old West Riding of Yorkshire. To the west of the County are the southern Pennine Hills and lovely Calder Valley, providing opportunities for walking and cycling,” it says.

“Leeds offers superb shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife. Within the City are many excellent attractions such as the Royal Armouries, the first National Museum and the Leeds City Art Gallery houses a superb collection of 20th century art.”

But a combination of high beer taxes and lower consumer spending has affected the area. Tension between police carrying out closure orders and landlords has also been frayed in the past as the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) stepped in to meet authorities in Yorkshire.

It was in a bid to ease tensions between police and licensees over an alleged “abuse” of power relating to closure orders.

3. West Midlands: -37

The West Midlands was one of the regions hardest hit by the pub closures over the six month period.

Better news is that the area has been tipped to lead the UK’s struggle towards economic recovery with a strong set of regional purchasing managers index (PMI) figures for March.

The West Midlands saw its business activity hit the highest level since September 2007, at a PMI figure of 60 for March.

There was also a solid rise in private sector employment in the area, up to a PMI figure of 54.8 for March from 53.1 in February.

2. London: -43

London has a reputation for good pubs but they are suffering under the current circumstances and 43 closed in the past six months.

CAMRA’s London branches are mobilising though and are coordinating a campaign to showcase what London has to offer.

The objective is to raise the profile of British beer and pubs during the summer starting in July, featuring the Ealing Beer Festival and including the Great British Beer Festival in August at Olympia.

Lots of pub events and brewery open days and evenings across the capital are being organised to create a month of celebration.

1. Lancashire: -68

Lancashire has felt the brunt of the pub closures across the country in the last six months and things are not looking optimistic for the future.

It is believed Lancashire has suffered most because many of its pubs are rural and not easily accessible unless you drive. Country pubs have suffered because of strict drink driving laws and many landlords are hoping for a hot summer, so they can face next winter.

Mick Clark, CAMRA’s communications manager for Central Lancashire said pubs were the hub of local communities.

He added that the demise of the local pub was due to a number of factors, including cheap supermarket beer, but added that the Government plan to impose a minimum price on alcohol would not kerb “the overall capacity of supermarkets to undercut the pubs.”

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No