News

    Economic Crisis Calls Time on British Pubs

    English pub landlady Karen Murphy poses for photographers inside her pub in Southsea, Portsmouth, southern England. (File Photo)
    English pub landlady Karen Murphy poses for photographers inside her pub in Southsea, Portsmouth, southern England. (File Photo)
    Henry Ridgwell

    The British pub is famous worldwide, part of the social fabric of the land and a draw for tourists visiting the country. But hundreds of pubs across Britain are closing down every year. 

    A roaring fire, a pint of beer, a cozy corner and good company; the British pub is famous worldwide as a place to escape the outside world.

    Names like the Rose and Crown, the Red Lion or the Three Horseshoes are an embedded part of culture. But this institution of British life is suffering.

    John Cryne is from the Campaign for Real Ale, or CAMRA, which is leading the charge to save the British pub. "Sixteen a week in the UK are closing, often forever," said Cryne. "And it’s community locals’ pubs, those that support their neighborhood, that are often the most under threat."

    Up and down the land, the boarded-up shells of former pubs are becoming a common sight.

    The Campaign for Real Ale says the problems stem from too much tax and the complex relationships between pub owners and managers, known as the "tied pub" system.

    "Pubs that are owned by large pub-owning companies are faced with a bit of a double-whammy" added John Cryne of CAMRA. "In the first instance, they have to pay a rent for their premises, and we feel that in many cases the rent is a bit overstated. Then they’re caught out twice as they can only buy their beer through the pub company."

    The British Brewing and Pub Association represents the companies that own pubs. Its chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, refutes the accusation that owners charge too much and says it all comes down to tax.

    “Brewers are only making a penny a pint," said Simmonds. "For pubs, because they are small businesses, they have to pass on that increase in tax to the customer, and they’re really struggling in this economic climate as people are struggling throughout the world. But there are some great pubs out there. Pubs are the third reason why the majority of people want to visit the UK.”

    Pubs and breweries do agree on one thing, lower taxes on liquor sold in stores means more people choose to drink at home.

    Plenty of pubs are bucking the trend.

    The Pineapple in north London dates from the 19th century. Its carved wooden interior enjoys protected heritage status.

    The owner wanted to sell it to be developed into flats (apartments), a common fate for closing pubs. A vociferous campaign by local residents saved it, and Simon Rennie took over the management.

    "I think it was Prince Charles that actually said, 'The pub is the hub.' And it really is. The pub is the hub of the community," said Rennie.

    Local residents at the Pineapple can drink to the future of their pub.

    But across Britain, many others are finding the hub of community life has gone for good.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora