Ris­ing costs and Brexit may see more pubs close

Warn­ing of soar­ing rates bills and un­cer­tainty caused by UK de­par­ture from the EU

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - STE­FAN MORKIS [email protected]­courier.co.uk

More pubs could close across Tay­side and Fife be­cause of Brexit un­cer­tainty and ris­ing costs, it has been warned.

The alarm has been raised by the Scot­tish Li­censed Trade As­so­ci­a­tion (SLTA), which says more than 25% of pubs across the UK have shut since 2001.

Now the pub­li­cans’ body has warned oth­ers may be forced to shut their doors for good be­cause of ris­ing costs, soar­ing rates bills and un­cer­tainty caused by the UK’S de­par­ture from the EU.

It comes in the week that pop­u­lar wa­ter­ing holes The Crown Inn in Moni­fi­eth and The Bell Rock Tav­ern in Tay­port both shut down with­out warn­ing.

Paul Water­son, spokesman for the SLTA, said: “The long-term out­look, with Brexit hang­ing over us and costs go­ing up, is not good, but it’s not good for a lot of busi­nesses.

“We’ve been hit by gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion as much as any­thing and a lot of well-run pubs, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral ar­eas, have lost ac­cess to their mar­kets.”

Last year pub chain Greene King warned a no deal Brexit could dis­rupt the sup­ply chain for pubs, raise the cost of im­ports, and limit ac­cess to labour as well as a gen­eral slow­down of the British econ­omy.

Mr Water­son said the tra­di­tional pub, which does not of­fer food or other en­ter­tain­ment, may not sur­vive.

He said: “Pubs are def­i­nitely chang­ing their of­fer­ing.

“Tra­di­tional-style pubs with­out food, out­door ar­eas for smok­ers or other ameni­ties have found it very dif­fi­cult.”

He added the in­tro­duc­tion of the smok­ing ban in 2006 and tougher drinkdrive laws had also made it harder.

Mr Water­son said: “We’ve seen about 21% of pubs close over the past seven or eight years in Scot­land, which is about the same rate as the UK.

“The smok­ing ban was a game changer and cheap drink in su­per­mar­kets – peo­ple drink­ing at home – is still a prob­lem.

“Now 75% of al­co­hol sold in Scot­land is sold through the off-trade.”

Un­like su­per­mar­kets, pubs are charged rates based on turnover.

Al­though this is capped at 12.5%, it means the more pubs sell, the more they have to pay.

Dundee now has 35 fewer pubs than it did in 2001 and 1,000 fewer peo­ple are em­ployed in the in­dus­try.

How­ever, the city re­mains above the na­tional av­er­age for pubs per pop­u­la­tion, with 6.7 wa­ter­ing holes per 10,000 peo­ple. Na­tion­ally the fig­ure is 5.8.

David Glass, pres­i­dent of the Dundee Li­censed Trade As­so­ci­a­tion, said there was still op­ti­mism among pub­li­cans in the city.

He said: “There is def­i­nitely a feel­good fac­tor in Dundee.

“Peo­ple have said there are too many ho­tels but these com­pa­nies don’t come into a city on a whim.”

Mr Glass, who has owned Doc Ferry’s in Broughty Ferry since 1998, added: “The pub is still a cor­ner­stone of so­ci­ety, es­pe­cially in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

“There is no deny­ing busi­nesses have maybe had their fin­gers burned in the past, not re­al­is­ing the scale of what they’ve got them­selves into.

“The days of some­one com­ing in and own­ing a pub and leav­ing oth­ers to run it have prob­a­bly gone now.”

Pic­ture: Kim Cess­ford.

The Bell Rock Tav­ern in Tay­port closed its doors with­out any warn­ing.

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