FEARS have been raised over the future of pubs in Padiham after it emerged 50% have closed in little over a decade.
Councillors and ale enthusiasts voiced concerned at the dwindling number of pubs and clubs in the town which has halved to just 10 since 2000.
The Flying Dutchman, in Burnley Road, and the New Black Bull, in Mill Street, are the latest casualties on a growing list of pub closures in Padiham.
The Railway, in Station Road, could be turned into a private house and joins others including the Kings Arms, the Whalley Range, The Victoria, The Grove, The White Horse and The Britannia which have also shut in recent years.
The grim figures show just seven pubs and three clubs left open – 50% drop from 16 pubs and four clubs in 2000.
Economic downturn, spiralling costs and a change in drinking culture have been blamed for killing the town’s pub trade.
Coun. Bob Clark said: “There are around 20 pubs closing a month across the country. It is a social change. I can see the day when all the small towns will only have a couple of pubs left.
“We did have 16 pubs and a few clubs a few years ago but since then about 50% have closed.
“The overheads are so great and the price of alcohol is quite expensive.
“It is killing the pub trade.”
Coun. Chris Smith said: “It is a real shame. It is sad to see pubs closed. To lose 50% in around a decade is absolutely massive.
“I would like to see them all open.
“There is a lot of history in town with the pubs. They are part of Padiham’s social life.
“It is the social and community side that we are losing.
“It is all towns. Whichever area you’re in we have got to try and support them and stop this kind of decline.”
John Webster, of East Lancs Campaign for Real Ale, said he was shocked by the statistics of Padiham’s dwindling pub trade.
He said: “The 50% figure is very high. I am really surprised.
“There are various reasons for it. The Government tax and the price of beer – £2.70 a pint in Padiham is a lot of money for people to pay.
“A lot of people are buying cans and bottles from the supermarket and drinking at home because it’s cheaper.
“It will get worse. We are still losing about four pubs a week nationally which is more than 200 pubs a year.
“We are going to get to the point where there will only be a few good pubs left. It is a shame because there are a lot of good pubs that are being forced to close down.”
However, there are some positive signs for Padiham’s pub trade. Thwaites Brewery confirm it is looking for new licensees for the Flying Dutchman which it said was a “popular and successful pub”.
The Alma recently held a bring-and-buy sale which raised hundreds of pounds for charity and the Hare and Hounds was taken on by new owners and has undergone a refurbishment.
Mr Webster added: “There is some hope for good pubs. There are bright spots here there and everywhere.
“I went to the Hare and Hounds and they had four real ales on, they had just finished the redecoration and talking to people in Padiham it is doing alright.
“If we get out of recession and things get better more people will come out to the pubs again.”