Concerns backstreet pubs will continue to suffer and shut down

The Leopold public house in Southsea. Landlord, Stuart Ainsworth.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (14974-9)
The Leopold public house in Southsea. Landlord, Stuart Ainsworth.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (14974-9)
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Fears have been raised more backstreet locals will shut in 2015 due to a lack of support from pub companies.

Changing drinking habits and the fact people have less money to spend are also to blame for the negative outlook.

But beer enthusiasts say the region’s pub trade overall is looking good – and praised a rise in ‘craft beer’ bars which are offering something a bit different and not sticking to mainstream drinks.

Venues such as Meat and Barrel in Palmerston Road, and The Wave Maiden in Osborne Road, Southsea, serve a range of beers customers would not normally see with food that complements the taste of a particular pint.

Martyn Constable, a member of the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: ‘I think there will be a further decline of the small backstreet pubs, because the pub companies don’t invest money into them.

‘The government has said it will introduce the free-of-beer-tie option, but that may change come the general election in May. I can’t see it going through and making things easier for all pubs.

‘But I am feeling very optimistic about the pub trade as a whole – there are new craft beer bars opening which are selling local beers, local produce as well as an international range.

‘So I think things are looking brilliant for the area going forward.’

Stuart Ainsworth, landlord of The Leopold Tavern, in Albert Road, Southsea, said he has adapted to changes in the market and has stripped out brand lagers as more people switch to ales.

‘I am feeling optimistic,’ he said. ‘But I think a lot of backstreet pubs have got a very hard year ahead because a lot of people don’t have the money.

‘People are also looking for something a bit different when they go out now. People will always go out at the weekend, but if they are not going to go out in the week any more, that’s when your backstreet pub will suffer.’

Paul Fewings, landlord of The Winchester Arms, in Winchester Road, Buckland, agreed times were still tough.

‘I can’t see things improving this year because people still don’t have the money to spend,’ he said.

‘I don’t care what the government has been saying, things are in a bad state.

‘I’m still getting the same number of people coming into my pub, but they just aren’t able to spend the money.’

But Paul said craft beer bars were helping to raise the profile of different beers and hopes it will encourage more people to visit their local to see if they offer something similar.