Community hubs close as people choose to stay at home

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THESE pictures lay bare the shocking rate of pub closures in our region.

Research cited by Plaid Cymru shows that from 2007-2010 more than 30 put up the towels for the last time.

Around a dozen community locals have disappeared in the Wrexham parliamentary constituency, with 20 they claim going in Clwyd South, which includes parts of Wrexham.

Community leaders are now campaigning to put a halt to the sad catalogue of decline.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's new Assembly Member for North Wales, said:

"The rate of closure is going to increase in this grim economic climate unless we take positive action.

“The pub is an important feature of many communities, both urban and rural, and is suffering from a combination of high rents from pub companies, the supermarkets actively promoting cut-price alcohol and the general economic downturn.

“Losing a pub means losing an important community asset, where people can enjoy a drink responsibly.”

Cllr Alan Edwards, who chairs Wrexham Council’s licensing committee, said: “This is a sign of the times but it does concern me a great deal.

“There are a number of reasons for the closures but the main one is that alcohol can now be bought much more cheaply in supermarkets and off-licenses than in pubs.

“I believe the Government should take the tax off a barrel of beer and put it on cans of beer – but they’re not going to do that.

“Society has also changed with people finding other things to do rather than going to the pub.

“The ban on smoking is another given for closures but I think there’s a 50/50 argument for that because smoke-free pubs have actually attracted more non-smokers.”

The Chester and South Clwyd branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), which covers Wrexham and Flintshire, keeps its own tally of pub closures.

John Wainwright, pubs officer for the branch, said: “A lot of the closures are down to cheap booze in supermarkets but, generally, it’s so hard for people to make a living in pubs these days with rising rents and other factors.”

However, Llyr Huws Gruffydd reckons there is a glimmer of hope.

He said: “As the corporate pub chains are giving up on smaller pubs, the communities affected are taking their place.

“There are initiatives such as ‘The pub is the hub' and support available from the Wales Cooperative Centre but we need more people to be aware that these community-run enterprises are an option for them.”

See full story in the Leader

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