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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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One in three Cumbrian pubs facing serious risk of closure

Nearly a third of Cumbria’s pubs and bars face a serious risk of closure during the next year, say researchers.

The figure was revealed today by R3, the trade body which represents insolvency practitioners. Their investigation of records lodged with Companies House showed 31 per cent of the registered Cumbrian pub and bar businesses face the possibility of collapse over the next 12 months.

As many as 20 per cent of the county’s restaurants are also deemed to be at risk.

The figures were revealed just weeks after the News & Star reported that pubs in the county are now closing at a rate of one a month.

Philip Tuer, from the Solway branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), agreed with the R3 analysis of the area’s pub trade, hit by the double whammy of recession, and cheap alternative supermarket booze.

He said: “We do have pubs which are struggling; others which are just treading water; and pub tenants where the owners of the pub are trying to squeeze as much money out of them as they can. Putting their rents up in the current economic climate is just ludicrous.

“It’s an accumulation of problems. The smoking ban brought in the first big shake out, and then on the back of that the recession came in.

“People are tightening their belts. Like a lot of people, I have seen my disposable income going down so I don’t spend as much in the pub as I used to.”

Mr Tuer said that pubs across the board – in both town and country – were facing tough times.

He lamented the loss of several once popular pubs in north Cumbria, including the Queen’s Arms at Warwick-on-Eden and the Globe in Caldewgate, Carlisle. Other pubs in the city are now clearly at risk of closure, he said.

One which has shut down recently is the Green Bank at Carleton in south Carlisle.

Dave Prickett, chairman of the Westmorland branch of CAMRA, agreed that the pub trade has been under continuous pressure.

He said: “The advantage of having viable pubs include that fact they are often community hubs, with activities going on inside which can not often take place outside because village halls or churches have closed.”

He said some tenanted pubs which build up a successful trade find that their landlords then increase the rent to boost their own profits.

Jeremy Oddie, north west regional chairman of R3 and head of recoveries at accountants Mitchell Charlesworth, said: “The downturn has gone on far longer than could have been predicted and it is getting harder for people to find the money to spend on discretionary items.

“Instead of going to the pub, many people are buying drinks from the supermarket and stopping in. The strain on pubs and bars is really showing.”

The R3 research showed that of the pub companies registered in the county 46 were at risk, while 38 restaurant businesses were at risk.

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