News that Prince Charles believes pubs in rural areas should double up as post offices and shops has been received with scepticism from the trade.
Speaking at a rural business conference, Prince Charles said that licensees could take on the services once provided by banks, post offices and local stores and beat the devastating effects of foot-and-mouth disease.
He said that in doing so pubs would be able to rescue failing rural communities and ensure that they could survive.
But licensees in the worst hit areas of Cumbria and Devon told thePublican.com that even though this was a good idea, in reality it would not work.
Margaret Sutton, licensee of the New Crown Inn in Ainstable, Cumbria said: "We already have a post office and shops here even though it's only a small village.
We couldn't tread on their toes." She added that licensees were already overworked: "We used to deliver newspapers but it didn't work because of working early mornings as a newsagent and then working late nights in the pub.
"Although it's a nice idea in theory, it's a lot more difficult in reality," Mrs Sutton said. "We offer a take-away service but even though this is successful it doesn't add that much to our trade."
Licensee of the Plume of Feathers in Princetown, Devon, James Langton already runs a campsite and a hostel in addition to the pub, but his business has suffered tremendously because of the disease.
Not only is his pub trade still down by about 30 per cent, but profits from his hostel and campsite have also plummeted between 50 and 60 per cent.
"It could work in some places," Mr Langton said. "But there are no more gaps in the market here."
But the Prince singled out the White Hart in Blythburgh in Suffolk as a great example of how vital village services had been incorporated into the pub.
Licensees Michael and Julie Davis have converted the pub barn into a post office and shop and in doing so have turned a £2,000 a week business into one that now reaps four times that amount.
Mr Davis told thepublican.com that he was delighted with Prince Charles' recognition of their hard work and said the improvements would not stop there.
He said: "We're now in the middle of putting up four new chalets for bed and breakfast purposes and installing a new kitchen and turning the old one into a conservatory, but we won't move away from the main service which is the pub."