THERE is growing concern for the future of pubs in the Fermanagh area amid fears that rising costs could force more to call time on trading.
It follows the release of new research which reveals that 25 pubs are now closing every week across the UK, as the industry suffers amid unprecedented cost pressures. Data from real estate adviser Altus Group, says that 1,292 pubs have disappeared in the past year and experts have said rising business rates, a property tax levied on firms, are partly to blame for these closures.
In recent years, the doors of many well-known pub businesses have closed in various towns and villages across Fermanagh. In Irvinestown, for example, the historic Central Bar, and one of the town’s busiest pubs, Floyd’s, have closed in recent times. Dessie McKenzie of The Linnet Inn in Boho says every business is feeling the squeeze at the moment and pubs like his are no exception.
“There are many different factors most notably stricter drink driving limits which means that people have to be picked up and dropped off home.
“We are better off as we are in an area with no competition and a loyal local trade as well as the occasional tourist influx. The demographic of our customers has also changed. When I started out 25 years ago, most were unmarried single men with no dependants and more disposable income. Now you’re dealing with those who have families and the financial pressure that comes with it.
“We show Sky and BT sport on our TV and for those who can’t afford those luxuries at home, I know that I can get multiple people in on nights when it would otherwise be quiet. Even then you can’t always guarantee a return from doing that given the higher commercial rates I have to pay just to provide that to customers,” Dessie added.
Councillor Paul Blake spent ten years behind the bar at Enniskillen’s Blakes of the Hollow. He says the recent rise in taxi fares due to new meters being installed, combined with the availability of cheaper alcohol in supermarkets is also preventing people from visiting their local pub.
“Families are facing more financial constraints which it makes it difficult to put that bit of money aside to spend socially. With many people in Fermanagh living in rural areas, you’re talking about £30 for a return trip in a taxi before you’ve even bought a drink. With wages not increasing, many people are now cash-strapped and yet the price of alcohol continues to rise so something has to give eventually.”
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