PUBS in Oswestry are under threat and the festive period may not be enough to save them, one landlord has warned.
Longstanding publican, Syd Hallam, pictured, today revealed how many licensees in the town are nervous that Christmas and New Year celebrations will not be enough to sustain their businesses through the early months of 2014.
Mr Hallam, landlord at The Oswestrian, has more than 40 years experience in the pub trade and blames cheap supermarket deals, lifestyle changes and growing overheads for killing off trade in both Oswestry town centre and the surrounding villages.
He said: “December is the busiest time, but January, February and March are pretty grim. Whatever you make over Christmas and New Year you will lose in those months, particularly if winter is bad.
“Some pubs do not even open on New Year’s Eve, it is a desperately difficult time – going into the pub trade is not to be recommended.
“I think it is very sad to see the decline of pubs in Oswestry.”
In recent months the town has lost The Ironworks, while Whittington has lost The Penrhos Arms.
Last year, Weston Rhyn saw The Cross Keys demolished to make way for housing, while The Crown and The Castle Inn have both disappeared from Oswestry, along with the majority of social and working clubs over the last 10 years.
The 70-year-old, who used to run The Three Pigeons in Oswestry, also said the days when people would go to the pub after work are gone, believing many people now take the opportunity to buy cheaper booze from the supermarket instead of worrying about getting dressed up, smoking outdoors or getting a taxi into town.
He added: “Supermarkets, they are the ones that are killing business.
“They can offer booze for £10 that would cost you £40 in a pub, so then nobody wants to come out. That was not the case 40 years ago.”
He continued: “I am sure all publicans are looking to improve their business, but there is no ready-made answer to any of it and I think it is dreadful for the town.
“Even big chains like Marstons and Wetherspoons have to practically give away beer.
“I think pubs will continue disappearing but it is not unique to Oswestry. Pubs in every town and village are under pressure.”
A NATIONWIDE campaign has been launched to save pubs across the UK.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) are behind the drive to save pubs and are offering communities advice on how they can step in and help save the local boozer.
Peter Norrie, chairman of The Shrewsbury and West Shropshire branch of CAMRA, said: “We recognise that supermarkets have an effect on pubs in general and we wish that was not the case, but at a national level we are not pursuing an increase on the price of alcohol units because we feel that would affect less well-off drinkers.
“Pubs are challenging places because many are owned by pub companies and are tied to an arrangement that means they have to buy their beer from the company – we believe they hould be free of that tie and we have support from the Government for that.”
Oswestry Chamber of Commerce chairman, Heather Noble, said she sympathised with Mr Hallam and other suffering landlords in the town.
She said: “It is very difficult for all town centre businesses, especially when their focus is on November and December and they dip in the New Year.
“I hope the situation will not be as bad as they fear, but businesses have to hold their nerve and hopefully they will see it through.”