First up is no less than Tim Martin of Wetherspoon’s, who peddles his favourite bizarre hobby-horse that food in shops does not bear VAT, while that in pubs and restaurants does, but is spot-on with this statement:
Once pubs become loss-making, or otherwise unviable, a change in the planning laws to prohibit their use as supermarkets is a pyrrhic victory, since an empty building is often worse for a local community than a mini-supermarket.Next is Reg Newcombe of Derby, who says:
There has been a gradual process of attrition, until only the better pubs remain. It’s what the pre-Darwinian evolutionist Herbert Spencer called survival of the fittest.And Keith Morgan of Appleby-in-Westmorland:
If an unfrequented pub falls into disuse, it will not be because the shadow of a supermarket has fallen across its path. It will be because it was not one of the better pubs – not one of the fittest. Perhaps it was uninviting or inconveniently located. Perhaps the beer was poorly kept or overpriced.
I am no lover of supermarkets, but wonder whether CAMRA should emphasise the threat to pubs of conversion to supermarkets. While we all regret the loss of any pub, the industry is an organic one which is constantly changing to meet consumer demand. I do not recall outrage expressed by the financial services sector when Wetherspoons was converting redundant banks to pubs.As I’ve often said before, in most parts of the country there’s no shortage of recently-closed pubs, often attractive buildings in prominent locations, in many cases still closed and boarded up. If the pub trade was thriving, surely they would be snapped up, but they’re not. And even if beer was £1 a pint, and you had to buy bottles from a dingy offie, pubs wouldn’t be doing anything like the business they were thirty years ago because society has changed. And, of course, an elephant has come along and sat in the middle of the saloon bar.
There’s also a letter from John Payne of Warrington who wonders whether it will even get published and says:
I am fed up of coming across rows and rows of pumps selling mediocre microbrewery ales – golden, or blonde ales...Is there maybe a need to recognise the realities of the modern drinks marketplace and rethink the objectives and strategy of the organisation rather than fighting a battle to stop the tide from coming in?
...Good pubs don’t shut down, poor ones do. I do not have a problem going to Tescos and picking up four bottles of Fullers 1845, or similar, for £6.
Mind you, last month there was a letter from a guy complaining about cask beer often being too cold and suggesting that ideally it should be served at room temperature...