Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Making Sure It's Not a Final Time at the Bar; Campaign Begins to Protect Pubs from Closure

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Making Sure It's Not a Final Time at the Bar; Campaign Begins to Protect Pubs from Closure

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair Craig

COUNCIL bosses on Tyneside are spearheading a campaign to protect neighbourhood pubs from closure when they are sold by national chains.

Proposals put forward by Newcastle City Council and Ryedale District Council would give local authorities the power to remove restrictive covenants which are imposed by major companies to prevent properties which they sell re-opening as pubs.

Recent research by the British Beer & Pub Association suggests pubs are closing at a rate of 52 a week, with almost 2,400 lost over the past 12 months, and the councils argue in many cases this is damaging to community life.

The Newcastle and Ryedale authorities believe some of the pubs could be maintained as viable businesses, and that restrictive covenants are imposed to protect trade at other bars owned by the chains in the same area.

Last year a Journal investigation discovered one North East pub closes every 10 days. And drinkers are downing nearly a quarter of a million fewer pints every day as they stay at home.

The economic crisis, alcohol taxes and cheap supermarket booze are causing a crisis in the region's pub sector.

And the impact is being felt in rural and urban areas across the North East, with pubs estimated to bring pounds 80,000 a year into their local economies.

The investigation has discovered 80 licensed premises have closed in the past two years, with areas of Sunderland, Derwentside and Durham city the worst hit.

Newcastle's director of policy Paul Rubinstein said: "Local councillors and communities in Newcastle gave us clear feedback that doing something to support the sustainability of pubs as a key part of life in local neighbourhoods was important."

The proposal has been put to Communities Secretary John Denham under the terms of the 2007 Sustainable Communities Act. …

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