Cambridgeshire Pub Closures – Listeners’ Comments

09:00 to 12:00 Wednesday 26th January 2011
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Well both of our Breakfast Shows have already been looking at how pubs are faring across the county, and we want to know what you think landlords can do to avoid last last orders. Some people blame the smoking ban, others cheap supermarket booze.

Dean says: “We should get rid of alcohol selling in supermarkets. Keep the British pub. It’s a great social venue and it stops people just sitting in front of the TV or the X-Box every night.
Lynn says: “I haven’t been able to afford to go to the pub for a few years, but I do think they are an important community resource in rural communities in particular.”

This is from Janet: “Mainly we go to pubs for a treat, to eat and drink. Best within walking distance, so there are no drink/drive issues. Basically we just can’t afford to get into the habit of drinking in a pub regularly, because they are out of our price range. Our local pubs are everybody-friendly too. We would not be likely to go into one of the pubs in the centre of Cambrdge for example, as the customers are very young, and we would probably be out of place and feel uncomfortable being older. Ths social climate of drinking habits has changed somewhat, and pubs in cities are not a pleasant experience now.
And this in nice. We’ve got a first-time emailer: “Hello. I’m a first-time emailer, and on today’s subject of pub culture, everybody is quick to blame cheap supermarket booze and the smoking ban. Do you not think it’s time that we looked at the sort of people running our pubs? That could be an issue. Our local pub used to be really busy, but now, due to the landlady swearing and being slapdash, it’s often closed by 9 o’clock, due to lack of customers. It should be a place where you go for relaxation, to forget your worries and chat, not feel uncomfortable wondering what mood the landlord and landlady will be in. We do go to pubs regularly, but not as often as we used to, and certainly not to our local. We find pubs that are doing very well are usually free houses, and not managed houses, and that says something.” Well thank you very much for that Mandy

Lisa-Marie says: “I think it matters. It’s a social place for people to drink. I don’t drink, but taking away the village pub means that the heart goes. It’s where people get together to chat unwind and chill.
Pat says: “They are a good social outlet, but the telly, the smoking ban, and cheap supermarket booze is killing them off.
Dean says: “I have to say that I go to the pub and I have a couple of pints every night on the way home from work. It’s a good place to relax, and have a chat with people. Now, working in the building trade, I also get private jobs from people who you talk to in pubs. We have to keep them in business. The other point is, where did you meet your partner? I bet most of your listeners would say, in a pub.”

Shirley‘s called, Andy, on this, and she’s said: “Being a landlord must be the only occupation where people are penalised for being successful.” She says that breweries put up prices and rents when pubs do well, which indeed is what happens. I think maybe she’s speaking from the heart there.
And Cheryl called from Bar Hill. She went to watch a gypsy jazz band at the Flying Standard at Ely, and thought that was a great evening, and the kind of thing that pubs should do.

Rick says “I’m listening via the Internet from the town of my birth, Newcastle Australia. As a life-long teetotaller and non-smoker,I find it interesting that pubs blame the smoking ban, and the price of booze, when looking at the downturn in their industry. Here in my home-town, I wouldn’t dream of taking my children to a pub for a meal, whereas before I left on this trip, the last thing we did was a visit to the village pub with the kids for a meal. I don’t know exactly what the problem is, but I can say that no smoke means I visit more often, and I don’t partticularly want to socialise with the people who idolise cheap liquor. The Great British Pub scene is so much more important than is often thought. They’re not just watering-holes, but a social gathering place for the whole community.” And that’s Rick, lives in Cambourne but is visiting Australia.

Jim says: “It would be interesting if Johnnie had asked Elgoods how many pubs they have been responsible for closing over the years. I remember them buying the only pub in our village that didn’t belong to them, and then they closed it. The pub was old-world, beams in the ceiling, always a friendly welcome, a place for children to play, and a great atmosphere. It was far superior to the pub that Elgoods owned in the village as well. Incidentally it didn’t have as much space inside or out. But the problem was the Jolly Brewer was too much competition. It was all about money. Money was important then, and if we’re being honest, it still is.
Gerald says: “Don’t use it? Then lose it. Pubs, local post offices, rural banks, local schools, shops, rural bus service, the urban masses rule.”
Jethro says: The big supermarkets put the first nail in the pub coffin, as they have done for bakers butchers and greengrocers. When will people realise their sole goal is to get a monopoly on retail spending. Once that is achieved, they can charge what they like. Ironically, the very people who complain that they have lost their local pub, or burcher or the baker etcetera, are the same people who pour in to the supermarkets.

Susan says: “In my opinion, since our village pub closed part of the heart of the village has died. Therefore I can say honestly yes, the future of a pub in your community does matter.

This is from Brian: “Like most people I like a drink, but I refuse as much as possible to pay what I consider an extortionate price for shandy. I drink shandy when I’m driving of course. I recently visited one place where I had to pay £3.40 for a pint of lager shandy. I can go out and get much the same in the supermarket for les than half the price. That’s the trouble. Why should we pay the same price for shandy when we all know that lemonade costs pence, no matter where it is purchased. Because of pub prices, plus the risk of getting done for drink-driving, I drink indoors, and in moderation as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong. Every now and again we go to our local and have a meal, along with a drink or two. But then it’s just 300 yards from our door. Once again, had their prices been cheaper, we might frequent it more. But with our income, we have to watch the pennies, and of course we are getting married in March.” I wish you all the very best for that of course Brian and Yvonne.
Paul says simply, “They should not disappear. They should be protected. They are one of the last bastions of our identity and culture. And incidentally, I proposed to my lovely wife in a pub.”
Mike says: “People’s drinking habits have changed a great deal over the years, and they’ve changed because of the drink-driving laws, no-smoking, supermarket sales, and the big pub chains. I worked for a brewery many years ago, and I used to visit many pubs that even back then, were only just keeping their head above water. When rents were raised to a commercial level it made life very difficult. I used to enjoy visiting pubs and taking part in the games throughout Bedfordshire. And many pubs had bar skittles tables, and were in leagues, which helps to bring trade to the pubs.”
Theresa says: “We used to have a lovely pub in our village. It was turned into a bistro pub, expensive, and hardly ever open.
Jules says: “Keep our pubs open Andy. This is close to my heart, and I can talk about it all day.
Mark says, “Pubs are like local shops. Everybody thinks they’re an important part of the community, but very few people use them.

Malcolm says: ” Sadly I think pubs need to rethink on what service they supply, as they cannot continue just serving alcohol and pub grub. If you look at any town centre, they are filled with coffee houses and fast-food restaurants. Pubs will need to get on the bandwagon too. They have the location, and the facilities, and now they need to adapt.

And we’ve had comments coming in from Derek in Royston. He worked in a brewery for many years. This was Whitbreads in London. It had 100 employees. He said how many did the brewery Johnnie visited have? And I think it was about 30 employees in all at Elgoods. But of course a much smaller brewery, a family-run brewery still.

Diane says: “My hubby says don’t worry. Tesco will sort it out. They’ll probably end up owning all the pubs as well.”

Howard says: ” There is no single reason why pubs are closing at such a fast rate. Off-sales, small off-licences have been much harder hit by the supermarkets, by the way, have alays been cheaper. And it pays for pubs, especially those in villages, to offer reduced take-away prices both on alcohol and food. The customer will usually have a pint or two whilst collecting. Property and land values: accountants of breweries and pub-owning companies, as opposed to operators, will value the land and site on which a village or a high-street pub sits. Many village pubs have large gardens in the centre of the community. Several “small” affordable housing units could be accommodated on such sites. Home comfort: ” Do you know  this is a very good point. “Before the 1970s, pubs were more comfotable than most private homes. Most locals would be warmer, better furnished, and often more convivial than spending the night arguing with the wife when divorce was frowned upon.” What a pretty picture you paint Howard. “Tenants and lessees are still being penalised through increased rents, when successfully increasing trade and improving premises. I greatly miss the pubs which have closed.