Is time being called on Calderdale's pubs

he Yew Tree in Northowram
he Yew Tree in Northowram

Is the classic British local pub being taken for granted? If the rate of Calderdale pubs closing is anything to go by, the answer is yes.

Since 2010, 54 pubs have closed down in the area leaving only 197 by 2017, meaning 20 per cent of all pubs have disappeared.

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The most recent pub under threat is The Yew Tree in Northowram, and regulars fear it could be sold off for redevelopment, possibly for housing.

A campaign led by Calderdale councillor Peter Caffrey had listed an application to turn the pub into an asset of community value.

A petition had also been started with backing from Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who is also from the village.

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Coun Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf) claimed a business model set up by company EL Group, a sub division of Unique Pubs, was an issue.

He said: “Except for the odd gap between tenants it has always been a popular pub. Unforunately EL Group’s business model has not made life easy for tenants.”

Coun Caffrey stated that the pub had been thriving since landlord Phillip Ward has taken over, thanks to poker nights, curry nights, quizzes and wine and cheese nights, but the pub was up for sale.

Mr Caffrey added: “I believe two offers around the asking price were made however I am advised that a high offer was made at a level of consideration that was not going to be sustainable as a pub.”

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Regulars recently held a “wake” for the Yew Tree and Coun Caffrey said the village pub had since closed its doors.

In neighbouring Shelf the Duke of York has also been shut for several months with signs on the premises advertising for people who would like to run their own pub to come forward.

Various reasons have been suggested as to why so many pubs are calling time, including people opting to drink at home, an increase in the price of beer and “foodie” pubs that can often cater for six or seven times the number of customers than the typical local.

With the upsurge in “foodie” pubs, many Halifax pubs are owned by big companies and are tied to what they can sell.

The Victorian Craft Beer Cafe opened in 2014 in response to the fact pub life was booming in Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield and owner Simon Stather wondered why it was not the same in Halifax.

It was slowly joined by a wide variety of new pubs and bars that have opened recently in the year.

Mr Stather said: “We are all independent and free to sell whatever products we choose and our high quality approach tends to pull people into Halifax from the surrounding areas.”

These new bars and pubs that give the owners the chance to have some freedom are suddenly thriving.

So are big organizations what is to blame for ruining the local? Or is it down to the fact that the current culture is to always look for something new when going for a drink?

With the increase in the price of beer, people seem to want to get value for money and are als seem to be basing where they go on the overall experience.

CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) took a survey of 2,000 adults which found that only one in four said prices were about right.

With 18 pubs closing every week in the UK, it appears that unless pubs can find a way to draw people back in, then the people of Calderdale are going to choose to drink at home and save money rather than venture down to the local.