|From Kent Walk|
Hundreds of the country's pubs are closing every year, infact one industry expert now puts the closure rate at around fifty a week. If like me you enjoy a pint and think pubs constitute a vital part of our social fabric this is depressing news indeed.
Some, like Anthony Worrall Thompson, are calling for the smoking ban to be lifted from pubs but this problem is not so simple. The Pubco contracts which force franchised landlords to sell beer at an unfeasibly high price is also to blame for some of this crisis, and the tax environment for alcohol generally here is madly high.
The Government has known about the pub meltdown for a while and yet doesn't move, maybe eyeing the cost of late night disruption in town centres and reasoning that as alcohol is a poison perhaps drinking less of it would be good for the population and the pressure on the NHS budget.
Whatever, I don't think the smoking ban should be removed. It's a pleasure to return from a night at one of our remaining pubs and not have to consign all your clothes to the washing machine.
UPDATE Over dinner tonight I was taken to task over claiming that the tax environment for alcohol is madly high. According to research done for the brewers we tax our beer higher than the vast majority of Europe, trailing only Finland and Ireland.