The Western Mail reports that, in a recent auction of pubs held at the Celtic Manor Hotel near Newport, only one of the nine pubs on offer was sold, six failed to meet their reserve prices and two received no bids at all.
This is sadly symptomatic of the general malaise of the pub trade in urban areas outside major town and city centres. Prominent South Wales CAMRA activist Arfur Daley looked into the pubs being sold and said:
One thing I noticed about these pubs is that a lot of them are urban and they lack outdoor smoking areas.A rare and welcome example of a CAMRA member actually taking the blinkers off and recognising the disaster that has overtaken the pub trade all around him.
Some of them had been quite successful in the past but once the smoking ban came in that was the big problem. That was their downfall.
Rodney Cave, an independent licensed property valuer, said it was time for the Government to call a review of the smoking ban, adding pressure also needed to be put on banks to lend to those looking to invest in pubs and hotels.And exactly the same kind of thing has been happening in working-class areas the length and breadth of the country, for example as reported here in Denton and Audenshaw.
“I attribute this disastrous decline in the licensed trade to the smoking ban, certainly,” he said.
“While you can make a case for saying smoking is harmful, it would be perfectly suitable to provide a separate room for smokers.
“Now the people who would have been down their local are at home with cans of lager from the supermarket.”
He said the trend has led to a decline in social contact, especially in less prosperous areas where, he claimed, families cannot afford to pay for expensive meals and “going out for one or two pints is all that their budget allows.”
It is precisely these areas, he said, where the worst-hit pubs are.
It would be interesting to see whether some of those who bang on in the comments here about the rude health of some parts of the pub trade would have the guts to take on some of these South Wales pubs. The asking prices are so low that, if you could make a go of one, it could prove a goldmine. Funny how nobody was biting, though, isn’t it?
This coincides with the launch this week of Antony Worrall Thompson’s petition on the government website calling for a review of the smoking ban. If you care about the future of the pub trade, please sign it here.
Incidentally, the headline on the newspaper article is wrong – it clearly should refer to “urban pubs”, not “rural pubs”.
H/t to Simon Clark at Taking Liberties.