Crisis time for pubs and bars

CONCERNS have been raised at the number of pubs and bars in the Scarborough area whose leases are for sale.

A number of well established watering holes in the town are also due to be converted to alternative uses after being sold – further reducing pub numbers in Scarborough.

Pubs and clubs in Scarborough which are currently either for sale or have leases for sale include: The Wellington, The Durham, The Tennyson Arms, Tonics, Waterhouse, Mist, It Is It Is, The Anchorage, the Cayley Arms, Brompton, and Boleyns.

Those which have closed include:

l The Dolphin – which will become an ice cream factory

l The Aberdeen – which is now shops and flats

l Laughtons

l The Northway, now a Chinese restaurant

l The Cricketers, will be accommodation for the elderly

Matt Coulson, who used to run the Tap and Spile and the New Tavern before going out of business almost two years ago, agreed that there were a lot more pubs and bars up for sale at the moment.

He said: “The main thing is the council rates were far too high –they’ve since realised that and reduced them as I understand. And the pub rents crept up.”

Mr Coulson, who is now the manager at the Old Vic in Westborough, said that breweries were trying to help landlords with better deals and partnerships as well as other ways to keep pubs open –such as charging low rent.

He said: “They charge peppercorn rents with people who don’t really understand the full workings of a pub. It could be people who’ve been made redundant – they find that they can’t run it and lose their money.

“I don’t think the smoking ban is the main thing any more. We’ve lost the smokers now and we won’t get them back. They’ve got used to going to the supermarkets and buying case of alcohol. It’s not just with smoking it’s the young people. They are not turning out until late.”

According to official Government figures collected since July 2007 35 pubs have closed every week across the UK – with businesses struggling for a variety of reasons including rising rents, cheap alcohol in supermarkets and the smoking ban.

Kath Duffy, the president of Scarborough’s Licensed Victuallers Association, said that the current economic climate and job cuts meant that there was not as much spare cash around these days. She said: “Everything is closing down and people are being made redundant. I don’t think people are spending like they normally do.”

She added that stag and hen parties did help the pub trade but daytrippers tended not to spend money in pubs.

Mrs Duffy agreed that the availability of cheap booze in supermarkets also did not help. She said: “They can go to the supermarket and buy a lot more for their money than in pubs because supermarkets are selling it so cheap.”

Paul Murray, from Vivaz in Huntriss Row, recently called for a return to reduced licensing hours and said that people often did not realise how much it costs in overheads to run a pub.

He said: “More nightclubs have closed than bars. You don’t go to a club until you have left a bar – they are not coming into the club until 2am.

“It’s the cheap drink that’s ruining the whole industry. Sometimes things change but they don’t always change for the better – but you can’t go back. There is always a bigger picture and it’s not as cut and dried as people think.”