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Calls to save local pubs as scale of closures in Suffolk and Essex laid bare

PUBLISHED: 12:17 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:17 03 August 2018

New figures have revealed the scale of pub closures in Suffolk and north Essex Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO/MARIANVEJCIK

New figures have revealed the scale of pub closures in Suffolk and north Essex Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO/MARIANVEJCIK

MarianVejcik

Campaigners are urging people to take action and write to MPs in a bid to save their local pubs as it’s revealed visits to them are plummeting.

People in Wickham Market gathered to launch a share scheme to save The George pub Picture: JULIAN EVANSPeople in Wickham Market gathered to launch a share scheme to save The George pub Picture: JULIAN EVANS

The scale of pub closures in our region have been laid bare by new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

Changes in consumer habits and drinking at home are among reasons cited for the closures, with pubs blaming beer duty, VAT levels and rising business rates.

Ipswich has lost more than a quarter of its pubs since 2010, with 20 shutting their doors for good in this period.

Back in 2010 there were 75 pubs and bars in Suffolk’s county town, and this number fell to 55 in 2017.

Villagers in Great Oakley rallied together to save the Maybush Inn. Pictured are Harwich and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin and Mark Godfrey Pictrure: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Villagers from Great Oakly got together to celebrate the opening of the Maybush Inn. The villagers ,139 of them, clubbed together and bought the pub, saving it from repossession by the bank. 
MP Bernard Jenkin and Mark Godfrey.Villagers in Great Oakley rallied together to save the Maybush Inn. Pictured are Harwich and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin and Mark Godfrey Pictrure: SARAH LUCY BROWN Villagers from Great Oakly got together to celebrate the opening of the Maybush Inn. The villagers ,139 of them, clubbed together and bought the pub, saving it from repossession by the bank. MP Bernard Jenkin and Mark Godfrey.

Colchester has suffered a similar fate to Ipswich – losing more than 20% of its pubs since 2010.

One in five have closed since 2010 in the north Essex town – eight years ago there were 120 pubs and bars, but by 2017 that had fallen to 95.

Mid Suffolk has lost more than one in 10, while St Edmundsbury has seen 15 of its pubs call last orders since 2010.

It was a similar picture in Tendring, which lost 15 of its public houses in that period – down 16%.

The Drum and Monkey in Ipswich was recently demolished  Picture: JADE GIDDENS/IBCThe Drum and Monkey in Ipswich was recently demolished Picture: JADE GIDDENS/IBC

Nationally, more than 5,700 pubs have shut their doors – and there are 54 local authorities in Britain where 30 or more had closed.

Britain’s Beer Alliance, a group of organisations in the pub and brewing sector, has started a campaign called ‘Long Live the Local’.

They have launched a petition, which calls for people to write to their MP about cutting beer duty in the November budget.

Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Seven in ten alcoholic drinks sold in a pub are beer, so cutting beer duty is the most direct way of helping pubs.”

A spokesperson for the Treasury said: “90% of pubs across the country can benefit from the business rates relief introduced at Budget 2017, which could save them up to £1,000 a year.

“In addition, both businesses and their customers have saved around £3 billion since 2013 thanks to changes to alcohol duty.”

Our region has seen a surge in community-owned pubs in the last few years, with success stories including The George in Wickham Market.

Last week, villagers raised a glass after collecting £100k to buy their local.

What Isaacs make of the modern pub scene

The manager of Ipswich-based Isaacs on the Quay believes problems with rent play a big part in the number of pub closures.

Lewis Besley has worked at the venue, on Ipswich Waterfront, for almost six years.

He claims rents to landlords who cannot afford to buy their pubs outright has contributed to the problem.

“Rental landlords are struggling, they can’t afford to buy a property so they have to rent from a bigger chain company,” he said.

“That usually means they are tied into a contract for three or six years where they have to buy alcohol from a certain brewery, they can’t shop around for a lower price and so they can’t sell it at a competitive price and so lose out on business.

“We are free-holders so we can get a better price for our beer and be more competitive, if there were more free-holders I think it would be better for business things would be more competitive and pubs would get more creative.”

The Lakeside cafe in Onehouse near Stowmarket will be closing its doors this weekend, owner Helen Goldsmith and sister Heather Moore have revealed.

Suffolk brewer Greene King has teamed up with West Suffolk College to encourage more people to take up careers in hospitality.

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Two men accused of starting a fire at Cycle King in Bury St Edmunds which caused £1.6million damage will stand trial next March.

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