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Date published: 2012/02/24
The Cambridge News says:
Getting consultants to take the temperature of Cambridge's pub trade will cost taxpayers more than £19,000.
The study will explore the problems faced by drinking holes and will look to draw up new planning rules to protect them from redevelopment, but the price tag has sparked criticism.
The city council will pay GVA Humberts Leisure £19,100 for the project, including £1,000 for expenses.
The country is on the brink of economic disaster, and should be focussing spending on areas which will improve economic productivity. And yet the Cambridge City Council, forever living in a fantasy world, is happy to throw 19k pounds at a completely unnecessary report. No doubt the report will be very thorough, but it is obvious that there are many circumstances that have accumulated to mean that pubs are not as viable as they once were, and so they are closing. The city can do very little about most of these issues.
For example, drink driving is no longer tolerated. Smoking has been banned in pubs (and elsewhere). Beer in pubs is expensive compared with alcohol in shops. People have plenty of other ways to be entertained these days, and can socialise even without leaving their homes, via the internet (ok, it is not quite the same). Further, housing is extremely expensive, and so it is far more profitable to build houses than to sell beer.
The last issue is about the one area where the city can have any say in the matter. And quite possibly the Lib Dems are wasting this money on this study so they can point at this fact when they want to make it harder for pubs to be converted to housing. This is not worth 19k pounds. It will also rescue very few pubs. Because even without the pressure to convert to housing, there are too many pubs chasing too few customers. The Lib Dems can try and turn the clock back to 1960, but it will not work.
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