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PUBS in Blackburn are closing at an alarming rate, according to new figures.

Statistics published by drinks trade analysts CGA showed the town to be one of the worst in the country for pub closures last year.

And one local councillor said the rising Asian population in the town was a contributing factor

Geoff Sutcliffe, landlord of the Rising Sun in Whalley New Road, said ‘street corner’ pubs didn’t stand a chance over the next 20 years.

He said: “I wasn’t at all surprised to hear 20 per cent of pubs had closed in 2012 because I have lived in the town all my life and can see what is happening.

He said: “In my day, we would go to the pub three or four times a week.

“It was the social centre where you would meet up with friends, but over the years it has changed. Young people don’t come to the pub on a regular basis any more.

“And there is nothing we can do to change that. It is just the way it is and the way it will continue.”

Landlady of the Alexandra in Dukes Brow, Sue Ainsworth, said she was just about surviving in the difficult trading conditions.

She said: “Touch wood we are breaking even at the moment, but it is a constant struggle.

“People think that when pubs around you close it will make it easier but it doesn’t work like that as people want a run (of pubs).

“When I first came in here there was the Revidge Run, which people would do every weekend.

“But I don’t know if we will ever be able to recover from this situation.”

Andrew Buchanan, director of pub operations for Blackburn brewery Thwaites, said: “We have to recognise social demographics and consumption habits are changing. Many people now simply do not drink.

“It is inevitable that some pubs that were once vibrant, are now no longer sustainable.”

Veteran Blackburn councillor Ashley Whalley, who became one of the first 250 members of Camra when he joined in 1973, said it was difficult to change the fortunes of pubs in the town.

The former regeneration chief said: “……there is an increasing number of people in the drinking age in Blackburn who do not consume alcohol for religious reasons.”

… but there’s still some cheer about

DESPITE the challenges facing many pubs in Blackburn, some have bucked the trend.

The Black Bull in Brokenstone Road closed in 2009 after its trade declined, but it reopened two years ago after microbrewery Three B’s took over and it is now thriving, said bosses.

Martin Hall, sales manager at the microbrewery said: “We have been going against the grain in the area at the moment as we have been quite successful.

“In June, we won we won the Blackburn Camra pub of the year and came runner-up in East Lancashire.”

Mr Hall said the fact the pub had its own microbrewery on the premises made it an attractive prospect for customers.

He said: “We do brewery tours on Saturdays and people come for a drink and have a look around the brewery.

“Real ale is the big thing at the moment and we have eight different ales on the bar at all times.

“And it is our ales that people want to try. We did have guest ales on but found they didn’t sell.”

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