Head of Nottingham CAMRA calls on us all to support our pubs
The secretary of Nottingham CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale) has urged people to return to our pubs and help them recover after a desperate year.
Andrew Ludlow said he has been enjoying being able to enjoy a pint in a pub garden again after pubs were allowed to re-open, albeit to only serve outdoors for the next few weeks, as lockdown restrictions were further eased.
But after what has been a very tough year for pubs and the hospitality industry as a whole, Andrew says pubs need our support more than ever.
He said: “It’s been a incredible year, one tends to forget just how important pubs are at the heart of communities and how difficult it has been for them to have survived this last year.
"It’s a bit like a spring opening now in that we’re hoping that improvements with the number of Covid infections going down will allow pubs to fully re-open soon.”
The pub industry is worth £22 billion each year to the UK economy and Andrew says that while the smaller pubs are the ones most at risk, the larger chain pubs also have reason to be concerned.
He continued: “Where you have a large stock of pubs and you’ve lost a small fortune in revenue, you’re looking to recover that money as quickly as possible and one of the ways in doing that is selling off pubs in areas to be redeveloped for things like housing, it’s a quick fix.
"It’s only now we’re starting to see the seeds of this.
"In Nottingham, for example, the Nottingham Legend has recently come up to be demolished and turned into student accommodation on the grounds it’s not viable.
"Well if you’ve been shut for half a year, you’re hardly likely to prove you were viable in the last 12 months."
The future of British pubs has been under the microscope for some time, long before the pandemic brought it into sharp focus.
And Andrew says CAMRA now is calling on local and national government to give the pub industry the support and backing it urgently needs.
He said: “I think it’s essential that the local councils take note of the situation in the hospitality sector and give them as much freedom as possible for opening premises’ and spaces as possible.
"I’m very pleased to see a lot of that has happened with pubs being able to extend beer gardens into car parks.
"On a longer term, and on the financial side, some sort of reflection on business rates needs to take place and, at national Government level, VAT changes long term to encourage pubs, which are a huge employer of local people, to keep going.
"I am confident pubs like CAMRA pubs can can survive because they’re very much community based and led.
"They’re only difficulty will be is that some of them have lost up to £100,000 already and making up that shortfall and the loss will take years and some people simply haven’t got that much time left in the industry.
"So I think we’ll see some changes but a good percentage of the real ale pubs should survive and it’s really now up to the public to back their pubs and get back to their local.”