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Lichfield councillor calls for summit on the future of rural pubs

Cllr Matthew Ellis

Cllr Matthew Ellis

A Lichfield councillor is calling for a county-wide summit to debate the future of rural pubs.

Cllr Matthew Ellis (Cons, Shenstone) has urged landlords, breweries, drinkers and experts to come together to put together a long-term survival plan for the old-fashioned village inn.

And Cllr Ellis, who is also a Staffordshire County Councillor for Lichfield Rural East, believes that more must be done to support rural pubs – as long as they are viable businesses.

He explained:

“Latest figures suggest that this country is losing as many as 50 rural pubs each week. I do believe in market forces and fully subscribe to the principle that ‘if you don’t use it you risk losing it’, but more and more it seems that the ones closing, or under the threat of closure, in the area I represent are generally busy enough and are fundamentally viable businesses.

“It’s not completely clear what’s going on in reality. Some say the breweries are trying to force landlords out of business so they can sell the properties to try and bring down massive corporate debts whilst others believe it is simply a case of the breweries making sure they squeeze every drop of profits out of landlords at the expense of the business’ viability. The breweries deny it is any way due to their actions.

“Whatever the cause there’s a problem and pub after pub are closing. And that’s why I’m keen for the County to bring together landlords, breweries, industry experts and users for a Staffordshire Pub Summit to try and understand it better and find solutions.”

And Cllr Ellis believes that rural communities need their village pub. He added:

“Rural pubs aren’t generally places where yougsters go to drink themselves into oblivion they are important village amenities where communities come together and villages stay viable.

“In my view the ones that aren’t viable must sucumb to market forces but the ones people want and use should be given a level playing field to continue as businesses and community places.”

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