Pubs in the West Midlands have been hardest hit by closures, according to a new study.
Across England, Wales and Scotland, pubs are closing at a rate of 12 per week, with “crippling” beer taxes threatening the future of the industry, the Government was warned.
Real ale campaign group Camra said that between last September and March, eight pubs closed every week in towns and four in rural areas – and the West Midlands, alongside Lancashire, was hit hardest.
Camra said more than 33,000 consumers have now signed a national e-petition calling for an end to above-inflation beer tax increases in response to a 42 per cent increase in duty since 2008.
Camra’s chief executive Mike Benner said: “Whether situated in a small village, city high street, or on the edge of a housing estate, pubs are so central to our society that whole communities can grow around a particular pub.
“A threat to the future of traditional pubs is therefore also a threat to countless social groups within Britain that thrive because of their local.
“Unsustainable beer tax increases by the Government are ripping the heart out of community centres, but with over 33,000 consumers having recently signed the beer tax e-petition, beer drinkers and pub-goers are actively voicing their discontent.”
Community Pubs Minister Bob Neill said: “This Government is already taking decisive action to support community pubs. We have doubled small business rate relief for two-and-a-half years, which gives up to 100 per cent rate relief for small firms including pubs.
“Country pubs may also be eligible for rural business rate relief. On top of this, we have abolished the last government’s cider tax, are cutting red tape on live music in pubs and are stopping unfair sales of alcohol below cost-price by supermarkets.
“We are also giving local councils new powers to introduce local business rate discounts, which could support pubs which offer community facilities.”