Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 10:36 UK

UK 'is losing 52 pubs each week'

Two women in a London bar
The number of city centre bars and cafes has increased

UK pubs closed at a rate of 52 per week in the first half of the year - a third more than the same period in 2008 - the British Beer & Pub Association said.

Local pubs were the most vulnerable as communities were hit by the fallout of the economic downturn, it added.

The research suggested businesses that provided food were far more resilient to the recession.

And branded pubs and cafe-style bars were opening at a rate of two a week, according to the report.

I know it's tough out there, but a lot of pub closures are due to standards dropping
Mark Hopkins, Publican

"Pubs are already diversifying, but unfortunately if you are a community pub, you can't transform yourself into a trendy town-centre bar," said an association spokesman.

"The biggest impact is the recession. There are fewer people out and fewer people spending money in pubs and bars, regardless of where they are," he said.

On Tuesday, two MPs tabled a motion in the House of Commons, urging their colleagues to "support their local pubs".

Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland and Labour's Lynne Jones said the pub industry was "hugely important to the British tourist trade".

Graphs showing beer tax and pub closures

Job losses

The rate of closures was the fastest since the number of UK pubs began being tracked in 1990.

The number of pubs has dropped by 2,377 in the past year, to a total of 53,466.

The association's chief executive, David Long, said that the economic pressures of the recession had been added to by the smoking ban, tax rises on alcohol and "regulatory burdens".

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Villagers in Mersham, in Kent worked together to save the Farriers Arms

Pub closures had cost 24,000 jobs, he added.

"Government should look at valuing and rewarding pubs as community assets," Mr Long said.

"Not only would this have social policy benefits, by supporting a hub of community cohesion, but financial policy benefits in terms of tax revenues, particularly at a time when the public purse is stretched."

A number of pub firms have said that they have been offering financial support for tenants, in an effort to enable them to stay open.

Last month, pub and brewing company Marston's said it wanted to raise £176m in a rights issue. Most of the funds would be earmarked for buying land and developing pubs in densely populated areas, with a focus on food.



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