Last orders: 25 pubs have closed in Redbridge in last 10 years
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Last orders were called for the final time at the Valentine pub this year, but its closure was just the top of the pint glass for Redbridge.
According to data collected by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), the borough has the second lowest number of pubs in London. Only Barking and Dagenham has fewer – 28.
Currently, Redbridge has a total of 35 pubs in operation, compared to Westminster which has 459.
Community campaigner Paul Scott of Sandhurst Drive, Ilford, said when a pub closes, residents lose a part of community life.
“Redbridge Council should do what Barking and Dagenham does and create a planning document to protect the existing pubs in the borough,” he said.
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“If people see a pub under threat, they should rally together and help make it a community asset.
“This was one of the reasons why a planning application to demolish The Avenue in Newbury Park was rejected.”
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As well as having a small number of pubs in Redbridge, data compiled by the South West Essex and East London and City Camra branches shows that 37 pubs have closed since the 1970s, with 25 closing in the past 10 years.
“Property value is so high in London and you can get more money by selling a pub, even if it is doing well,” said Alan Barker, Camra South West Essex branch secretary.
“There have been recent changes in legislation making it harder to demolish a pub but it is an attractive option financially, and even more desirable if there is a car park attached, despite the legal hurdle.”
Alan said when a pub closes, residents lose a relaxed environment they can interact in.
“They are hubs of the community,” he said.
“It is detrimental to society to lose a good pub.”
Although there are many factors contributing to the demise of pubs, campaigning group, Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest) said the smoking ban, which came into effect in 2007 in England, had a detrimental impact on the industry.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said the old style working class boozer was particularly affected, as were “wet-led” pubs which only served drinks and snacks.
“Pubs that were already struggling were pushed over the edge when the ban came in,” he said.
“Pubs with outdoor areas have done well by converting the space into a garden, but not all pubs had this option.
“There’s very little evidence that the health of the nation has benefited significantly from the smoking ban. Instead, thousands of pubs have closed and choice has been sacrificed on the altar of tobacco control.”
The trend of pubs closing is just as bitter across London as it is in Redbridge and data released by the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) shows that between 2001 and 2006, 1,220 shut their doors for good.
And while the number of pubs decreased, the average number of employees at each of the survivors has increased in the borough, rising from 13 to 16.
Redbridge Council said it is doing all it can to support licensed premises to help them be sustainable and a valuable asset to the community.
However, it explained that there is less demand now for large-scale drinking venues as the “demographics of the borough, social trends and ability to buy alcohol in a range of places” is leading to fewer people heading to the pub for a pint.
“Economic survival of the large pubs is very challenging,” a council spokesman said.
“The pubs that do survive and thrive are those that offer something more than alcohol sales, many providing quality food and settings suitable for families.
“The smaller pubs continue to thrive throughout the borough often acting as community hubs supported by their local residents and groups providing a selection of live music, arts, sport, play and a range of events.”