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Why a thriving pub culture is good for society

PUBLISHED: 13:02 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:16 24 January 2019

The Bull in Fakenham has closed again.  Picture: Ian Burt

The Bull in Fakenham has closed again. Picture: Ian Burt

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Earlier this month we reported how The Bull in Fakenham was set to sadly close its doors once again.

The Bull in Fakenham is part of the town's history.  Date: unknown. Photo: Fakenham Community Archive.The Bull in Fakenham is part of the town's history. Date: unknown. Photo: Fakenham Community Archive.

In a post on The Bull’s Facebook page, it was announced that the pub would close “due to a number of issues.”

Whilst the exact reasons for the closure have not yet been disclosed its not hard to imagine the kind of battles the owners must have been facing.

Elsewhere, a few miles up the road towards the north Norfolk coast, in Burnham Thorpe, The Lord Nelson, the one time watering hole of the great man himself, remains closed.

From increasing business rates to rising costs in the face of Brexit uncertainty and fierce competition from much larger (and cheaper) national chains, our locals seem to be facing an uphill struggle.

The Lord Nelson pub at Burnham Thorpe. Picture: Ian BurtThe Lord Nelson pub at Burnham Thorpe. Picture: Ian Burt

The Bull and The Lord Nelson have served as great local pubs for many years and are a firm part of the history of their local communities.

But, sadly, they are just the latest examples in Norfolk of a worrying trend happening across the UK.

According to the Office for National Statistics, nearly a quarter of pubs in the UK have closed since 2008, with apparently more than 11,000 pubs closing in the last decade.

The Office for National Statistics analysis also shows that it’s small pubs, such as The Bull and The Lord Nelson, which are sadly disappearing from our high streets and villages.

Whilst the factors mentioned above are undeniably some of the key issues facing pubs across the country, I think the growth of social media and changing behaviours and attitudes are also to blame for their decline.

These days, instead of catching up with friends down the local pub, it seems many people prefer to interact over group chat platforms such as WhatsApp and Messenger.

Is it perhaps somewhat ironic then that the rise of social media has made us less social, leaving us preferring online interaction to a face-to-face catch up over a pint.

It’s widely reported how this trend can lead to people lacking social skills and mental health problems.

I don’t know about you, but I for one would much rather prefer to catch up with friends at my local pub, not least because it gives me the chance to enjoy a pint of good old local ale.

I know finding the time can be an issue, and the cost is an influencing factor for many, but I will continue to support our small, local, independent pubs as much as I can.

So next time someone says, “one more round”, I’ll gladly stay for another, all of course to help prevent our much-loved locals from becoming just another statistic-I think we can all drink to that.

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