Thursday, March 17, 2011

RE: Prince Charles: pub closures damage rural life

Charles has a thing about the rural idyll and one can't say he's wrong about these communities being worse off when the dwindling numbers of pubs serving them falls to zero. What he misses in this view is that EXACTLY the same arguments apply to urban communities as well.

There is a notion abroad that pub closures in densely populated areas do not affect the fabric of community because there is always various alternative sources of social solace when the last pub in a community closes. WRONG. There is always the notion that a community abandoned its last pub because there was not the demand for it. WRONG. There is this dumb idea that pub closures are always the result of pure market driven forces which have taken away the need for individual pubs to exist in individual areas. WRONG.

In many many cases where a pub has been proved non viable in the centre of a community through lack of customers whether it be in rural or urban setting the simple reason they have lost their custom is because they have been wilfully abandoned by the pub industry itself; their freeholders, by neglecting to maintain or improve their premises for decades have simply driven custom away - to coffee shops and wine bars who look after them and provide attractive surroundings where people can relax in comfort. The unreconstructed, unmodernised, unekempt, stinky and sad boozers littering Britain's landscape are like that not because the customers abandoned them but because their freeholders forced their customers away through criminal neglect their duty of cars and upkeep of the national pub estate for generations.

In short there IS demand for pubs, everywhere where there is an alcohol tolerant community, but there simply is not the provision within the various pub industry models available in the UK to enable that demand to be met, served and exceeded.

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