Tagged: supermarkets

Sign Of The Times : Rate of pub closures accelerates across North East to five per week

Pubs in the North are closing at the rate of five a week prompting concerns over the long term future of the region’s watering holes.

New figures today show a rise in weekly closures has accelerated from three per week in December last year to five this summer.

Campaigners are now calling for an urgent change in the law to make it harder for pubs to be demolished or converted to supermarkets and convenience stores.

Pubs in the region which have been become supermarkets in recent years include The Lodge, in Durham City, which is now a Sainsburys and The Prospect in Sunderland which became a Lidl.

Supermarkets tend to favour taking over drinking venues as no planning permission is needed to convert them into supermarkets.

Camra – the Campaign for Real Ale – has now launched a campaign calling for planning applications to be required before a pub is demolished or converted to another use.

The organisation says that in most cases communities have been powerless to save their locals.

Neil Walker, from Camra, said:

“Far too many pubs are still closing and unfortunately this is true for the North East Region too. With five net pub closures a week it is clear that more needs to be done to protect pubs and encourage more people to visit their local more often.”

The situation has become so desperate that some communities have resorted to buying their local pubs to prevent them from closing or standing empty.

Villagers living in Slaley in Northumberland have been working hard to keep the much-loved Rose and Crown watering hole open after taking over the venue last August.

They set about plans to buy the pub themselves and formed Slaley Community Assets Ltd (SCAL), creating shareholders who invested around £500 each.

The group managed to collect more than £200,000 in less than three months and the cash was then used to secure a mortgage towards the final £250,000 purchase price.

David Allsop, a director of SCAL, said the pub was finally making a profit, but not after a lot of hard work in terms of maximising the use of the venue.

Mr Allsop said:

“For the first 11 months we were making a loss, we managed to break even for one month, and the past two months have seen a profit.

“The reason we have been able to do that is by using the whole building. We are taking revenue from drinks, food, as well as running a B&B and opening a self-catering holiday let.

“I would say it’s near impossible to run a pub – outside the city centre – on just drinks revenue alone, so I understand why all these places are struggling to survive.”

Landlords argue that pubs’ demise has been fuelled by supermarkets, which cut the price of lager so much it was cheaper than bottled water.

This has prompted campaigners to demand more is done to tackle cheap supermarket deals.

Despite repeated efforts, plans to introduce a minimum price of 40 pence per unit of alcohol in England and Wales have failed to turn into a reality.

A report this week showed the positive impact of pubs on rural communities.

According to the latest research, the pubs act as a local meeting point and hub for the community to meet and engage with each other.

Source – Sunday Sun, 12 Oct 2014

Christmas and Foodbanks – Bishop of Jarrow Gets Stuck In…

Well, to a degree anyway. Certainly in his 2013 Christmas message, the Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, adressed subjects which seem to have struck local politicians dumb. I suppose its a start…

Extracts – (full message here).

I wonder if 2013 will go down in history as the year that in this country we discovered Food Banks?  Wherever I go across the region, almost every day I hear stories of people for whom life is becoming more difficult than I can even begin to imagine. I hear stories too of amazing generosity as people give time and money to support people…

It seems impossible this year to separate Christmas and Foodbanks. While very many of us will be spending more and eating more than we do at other times of the year, the media coverage and the collections outside our supermarkets will make it difficult to forget that we are a deeply divided country in which something is very deeply wrong.

If there is hope, – and I surely believe there is – for me it lies in the extraordinary generosity of so many. People I talk to who collect outside supermarkets tell me of the amazing generosity of so many.

Mmm.. and dont forget the amazing generosity of the supermarkets themselves, who generously allow people to buy from them to give to the foodbank collectors outside. Nothing in it for them at all…

There have been those this year who have seemed to want us to harden our hearts with their talk of benefit scroungers – ignoring the fact that very many people on benefits are in work and some foodbanks report that sometimes their busiest time of the day is when people are going home from work. The Good News is how many people refuse to let their hearts be hardened and persist in being generous. That gives me hope.

The bad news is that those propagating the benefits = scroungers propaganda are those in parliament with access to and control of the media, with not a few, I suspect, working for the DWP. I wonder if the Bishop has heard of sanctions and the unnecessery hardships they are causing ?

The Christmas story is a story about a God who does not abandon us whatever the mess and that sense that we are not alone is a reason to have hope.

Trouble is, that God doesn’t seem to give a fuck about suffering. If anything, he seems to get off on it…

It’s the god of Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and David Cameron. the god that saves the Queen but cares nothing for the poor.

The god that says you’ll get pie in the sky when you die (maybe)… but until then you suffer.

I’m not sure I’d want to put too much faith in a god like that.