These are tough times for pubs. Particularly for the out-of-town local (OTL) that can’t boast a large car park for diners or lots of passing trade. In recent times we’ve seen a steady erosion of the street corner and mod-terrace type of pub that were once as common as an MP’s fiddled expenses.
Local authorities have heeded the smoke signals coming from the government and, ever since they seized control of licensing, seem to have made the suburban pub their public enemy number one. Whilst continuing to license and tolerate any number of premises in the town centre; the slightest infringement by an OTL is seized upon eagerly.
Sadly the local authority is now often acting at the behest of a disgruntled neighbour. Where once the attraction of moving next door to a pub was seen as moving closer to an amenity, this is no longer the case. The pub’s proximity is seen as a nuisance, an annoyance that is best curtailed. If you don’t use it why should anyone else, seems to be the attitude.
Thus in recent years we have seen pubs closed because taxi doors are being “slammed” (in permitted hours) or people are gathering outside for a smoke. I know, I know, if only we hadn’t forced them outside in the first place.
Sometimes it is an ex-regular who has had fallen out with his former haunt. Hence the closure of a mid-terrace pub that dared to have its jukebox playing at 7pm on a Saturday in June. Unacceptable as next door happened to have its windows open and that’s the last thing you expect from a pub in summer. Especially when you are no longer welcome in said pub.
So it was with some resignation that I read a recent letter in the local press concerning the Help Me Thro’. This is a pleasant, terraced Thwaites pub that, as far as I know, tries to cater for its customers; who mainly live nearby.
However, according to ‘Disgruntled Grandparent’ it’s frequented by “inhabitants of other areas” and is characterised by loud music etc. Even worse, the local councillor had the audacity to defend the place. What about serving his disgruntled constituents? All very sadly predictable.
But this week’s edition contains not one, but two letters carrying the fight to the pub’s misanthropic neighbour. Not hiding behind anonymity (pointless as the identity of the miserable sod is well known) they seek to put the record straight.
The councillor was acting in his constituents interests: the pub is a local business and it is frequented by responsible local folk who enjoy the odd night out. Music is restricted to once a month or so and is of the solo kind, not an ACDC jamboree. And if you can’t stand the heat, don’t move next door to a pub. How do you like those apples, my hostelry-hating frined?
In the words of the late Clive Dunn: “They don’t like it up ‘em.”