My Shout

Where is the outrage for all pubs?

By Heath Ball

- Last updated on GMT

Crooked House Dudley should be a reminder of pub plight

Related tags Dudley Marston's pub company Crooked House developers Pub Demolition Council

The justified anger and passion from the general public, members of parliament, and the press regarding the suspected arson of the beloved Crooked House near Dudley has truly captured the nation's attention and fuelled our collective outrage.

However, it's essential for us to reflect on whether the pub's fate was already sealed. Did Marston's sell the pub because it was not financially viable anymore? This unfortunate scenario is not unique to the “Wonky Pub”; many pubs across the country face similar challenges.

Despite the petitions launched by locals to save the pub, they unfortunately did not yield any positive results and now it lies in rubble. In order for pubs to thrive in today's modern world, they must not only attract a consistent flow of customers but also have manageable expenses, fair tax regulations, and a dedicated workforce.

It is disheartening to witness the silent struggle faced by numerous pubs nationwide, burdened by rising inflation, exorbitant energy bills, and heavy taxation. Where is the outcry from MPs, the general public, and the press in response to these challenges? A few sympathetic stories in the media are not enough to rally the nation's support for our beloved pubs. Despite the best efforts of trade bodies, their pleas often fall on deaf ears.

We find ourselves being taxed at higher rates compared to our European counterparts, and as the cost of living crisis tightens its grip on us daily, the footfall at many of our cherished watering holes continues to decline. While demands for the developers to rebuild the Wonky Pub are already being made, will those same voices call for other pubs to be reopened and supported? Unfortunately, I fear this may not be the case.

Currently, we are losing around 50 pubs a month, surpassing the number lost during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The support and love we once had for our pubs during those challenging times seem to have faded away. Historic England had attempted, just a week before the fire, to secure listed protection status for the Wonky Pub. If we truly wish to prevent such tragedies from recurring, we must prioritise the protection of our pubs.

Running a pub is beginning to feel akin to owning a Blockbuster video shop, knowing that obsolescence looms inevitably. However, it is my hope that through collective efforts, awareness, and support, we can breathe new life into our pubs and ensure their survival for generations to come.

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