Mayor vows to protect London pubs after more than 1,000 lost

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Protection pledge: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan vows to help city pubs
Protection pledge: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan vows to help city pubs

Related tags Great british pub Public house London

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has vowed to help protect pubs in the capital from closing after more than 1,000 have been lost in the past 15 years.

Khan made the pledge to help halt the decline following the release of “shocking” figures on Wednesday (19 April), which revealed the number of locals in the capital have fallen by a quarter since 2001 – on average, a loss of 81 pubs a year.

In March, The Morning Advertiser​ reported that nationally, although closures are continuing, the rate is slowing​ – with multiple operators “spotting opportunities to open more sites”.

To help tackle the problem in London, the mayor has committed to working together with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to undertake an annual audit, so that the number of pubs in the capital can be tracked more closely, and efforts can be made to “stem the flow of closures in the city”.

“The great British pub is at the heart the capital’s culture,” said Khan. “From traditional working men’s clubs to cutting-edge microbreweries, London’s locals are as diverse and eclectic as the people who frequent them.”

Partnership with CAMRA

Khan said he was “shocked” at the rate of closure highlighted by the statistics, which is why he has partnered with CAMRA.

He continued: “From the outset of my mayoralty, I’ve made safeguarding and growing the night-time economy a key priority and this simply isn’t possible without a thriving pub scene.”

The figures show that in 2001, there were 4,835 pubs in London. By 2016, the number had fallen by 25% to 3,615. 

Amy Lamé, the first Night Czar of London, said: “Every pub closed in London is a blow to a local community, and these statistics show that London’s locals are under real threat from a wide range of issues – from development to rising business rates. We all need to love our pubs, and not take them for granted”.

Lamé said when she came to live in London, more than 20 years ago, she “immediately fell in love” with London’s pub culture.

“Running a pub of my own, I understand just how important they are to the life and spirit of a community,” she added.

In response to the figures, Lamé launched a public consultation on 'culture and the night-time economy', which offers guidance on how boroughs across the city can use the current London Plan to protect public houses from closure.

Pubs under threat

Greater London CAMRA regional director Geoff Strawbridge said:"Pubs play a vital part in many people’s lives, providing a place to meet and socialise and feel part of a community.

“Yet London pubs are under enormous threats, notably from increasing business rates, high alcohol duties and property speculation.

“CAMRA has welcomed the opportunity to work with the mayor in monitoring pub closures in the capital, and hopes this initiative will continue to draw attention to the plight of London pubs."

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “I very much welcome the mayor’s support for pubs and his highlighting of this key issue for London. Our pubs add £3.5bn to the London economy, and along with the capital’s 80 breweries, employ over 90,000 Londoners.”

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “It is hugely encouraging to see the Mayor acknowledging the vital contribution being made by pubs and confirm his support for the sector. Pubs, bars and late-night venues are an essential part of the UK’s culture and they play an indispensable economic role; this is abundantly evident in the capital.

"The Mayor’s report recognises the unique role that pubs play and highlights the challenges being faced by these businesses".

She added: “Support for the ‘agent-of-change’ principle – putting the onus on developers when it comes to addressing any issues caused by new residential development next to pubs – is hugely welcome.”

Interactive borough map:

The mayor shone a spotlight on the China Hall in Rotherhithe, south-east London, a pub boasting a history of almost 300 years that was sold to developers in 2013, to highlight the threat that pubs across the capital are facing.

Michael and Linda Norris, landlords of the China Hall, Rotherhithe, said the future of the pub “hangs in the balance”, with fears they will have to leave friends and family if the lease is not renewed.  

“It’s great that the mayor is recognising the cultural importance of pubs for local communities, and the measures he has proposed make it harder for situations like ours to occur in the future,” they said.

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