Cheers to the British boozer

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WIGAN drinkers are being urged to support their local pubs - or lose it.

British Pub Week, which runs from October 28 to November 6, highlights the benefits of pub culture on British society and the economy.

In the face of a difficult economic climate and the lure of cheap alcohol from supermarkets, pubs and pressure groups in Wigan welcomed the publicity offered by the event.

Wigan Beer Festival organiser Brian Gleave, a member of The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said: “I think the event is trying to raise awareness that pubs might not be there forever, and that people need to use them or lose them.

“At the moment we are particularly keen to highlight and support pubs because so many of them are closing due to high rents and exclusive beer supply deals with big companies, which mean landlords end up paying about 20 per cent more for beer than they would if they picked up the phone and dealt with brewers directly.

“People need reminding these days that pubs are there, when it’s cheaper and easier to go and buy drinks at the supermarket and take them home.”

Cliff Beech, landlord of The Berkeley on Wallgate, said: “We’ve not got anything special planned for the week, but we run a very busy programme of events anyway.

“It should be a big event and anything that helps the pubs is great.”

Russell Jervis, landlord of The Boars Head in Standish, said: “I think British pubs really need celebrating because it seems to be a dying trade. Pubs are closing at the rate of two a day at the moment. The recession started it off, then breweries got too greedy and the smoking ban didn’t help either.

“A lot of pubs are being modernised as well and we’re losing that traditional pub identity. I don’t think there’s enough experienced landlords and landladies either, as there’s a lack of training and support from breweries.

“Landlords need to be hands on, speaking to customers, welcoming them, listening to what they want.

“We try to make our pub the hub of the community and provide services for locals and regulars. We have reading clubs, host charity events and we act as a local polling station too.”

National chains Marston’s, Punch, Enterprise and Admiral Taverns are supporting the week, which this year also incorporates the Proud of Pubs scheme, although some pubs were unaware that the event was taking place.