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Closing time: Drinkers' alarm at vanishing pubs

PUBLISHED: 10:58 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:47 25 August 2010

BEER drinkers have expressed their dismay at the desperate decay of pubs as figures show that more than 40 are closing every week across Britain. Experts estimate that across Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich around 40 per cent of pubs have closed down in

BEER drinkers have expressed their dismay at the "desperate" decay of pubs as figures show that more than 40 are closing every week across Britain.

Experts estimate that across Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich around 40 per cent of pubs have closed down in the last 20 years.

Neil Pettigrew, pub preservation officer for the south east London branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said: "The situation is pretty desperate. I have a book that lists more than 1,200 pubs across south east London in 1988. At the last count, there were just 400.

"I was appalled and astonished by how many pubs had been demolished or turned into flats."

According to research published by the British Beer and Pub Association, published on Monday, six pubs close every week in London alone.

The chairman of Camra South East London, Charlotte Catchpole, said their

biggest threat is large, unscrupulous companies and the willingness of local authorities to grant permission to change pub buildings.

Ms Catchpole said: "In the last year, we have tried to save two historic pubs from closure, including the Royal George in Greenwich, but in both cases we lost.

"Councils should say no to development plans that will clearly have a negative impact and not promote sustainable communities."

Mr Pettigrew said that

another reason for the closures is the rise in large companies who are more interested in profits than the service that they offer their customers.

He said: "Most pubs are owned by giant companies that make a huge mark up which is not passed on to the customer. Twenty years ago, breweries were supportive, but now licensees just feel bitter.

Chris Dixon, manager of the Coach and Horses in Burnhill Road, Beckenham, blamed the increase in duty on the rise in pub closures.

He said: "Luckily, we have got a good local trade, but I understand that other pubs suffer.

"Now that the government has just put up duty yet again on beer, the prices have just gone up and I think that will keep people away.

"For three pints of beer,

you no longer get change from a tenner.

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