Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Sunday 19 July 2009

Article READER.ES July 22nd

Dire straits for UK pubs

THE Daily Mail reported, last month, that in
the UK, 1000 pubs and country shops will
close this year. That´s 20 a week, mostly in
villages or out of town locations.
It is no surprise; the trend has been
apparent for years, a combination of reducing
sales and higher costs leaving landlords
with no margin to make a living.
As a licensee in Oxfordshire for over
twenty five years, my wife and I were fortunate
to be amongst the last of what I may
say was the golden age of pubs. The traditional
inns with their Christmas card looks
were not only businesses but local social
centres, where members of communities
could meet socially and exchange news and
The trend, in the internet age, has been
for the brewers to concentrate on larger,
managed themed bars for the enjoyment of
the hedonistic youth. This comes as no surprise
when the breweries began to be run,
not by brewers but by accountants. The bottom
line is ALL that matters, that is their
The independent tenants have felt this
transition. Brewers used to know their tenants
and look after them, happy that for a
fair rent their beer would be sold and the
landlords could make a living. Now the
accountants see the value of the pubs rising
inexorably as property prices have soared.
Fairness was thrown out of the window as
the accountants demanded a proper return
on the value of their assets. Rents soared,
beyond the level at which the landlords were
comfortable. It was not only brewery greed
that squeezed the landlords. Most other
costs increased including local council
demands for non domestic rates (NDR)
which soared to ridiculous levels. I remember
once being threatened with legal action
for non payment of NDR during a particularly
hard time during the recession in the early
nineties. I eventually put the money together
after the spring bank holiday and went
round to the council offices to settle. I had to
pay to use the car park and remember this
is on land owned by the people. If that wasn’t
bad enough I found the offices closed
because the workers with their gold plated
pensions had a complimentary day off on
the Tuesdays following a Bank Holiday. I
went ballistic when I considered I’d worked
seven days a week without a break to make
the money and they had a paid day off at my
Although being a landlord is a way of life,
with many advantages, it is nonetheless a
hard way to make a living.
Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates received a
recently deceased publican and asked his
profession. When the landlord told him he
said, ‘Pass on through to heaven, my son;
you’ve known enough of hell on earth.’
In the twenty five years I was in the
Licensed Trade, working seven days a
week, I actually worked the same number of
days as, say, an office worker does, working
Monday to Friday, in thirty two years. Apart
from the hours there are other worries; apart
from the usual business problems, including
staff, and the risk of personal alcoholism,
there is the added risk of abuse from the
So next time you are in a bar or pub,
please be nice to the landlord or landlady.
The pleasant smile on their faces and happy
welcome may well be hiding a hurt and pain
that belies their image.
Kevill is a published author living in
Mojácar. Look at his future projects and
thoughts at:

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