Thirty pubs have closed across Fife since 2010, new figures have revealed.
An “unfair” rates system and high levels of beer tax have combined to “knock the stuffing” out of local drinking establishments, with 13% in the region forced to close their doors for good.
Fife has seen more pubs shut than anywhere else in Scotland over the last eight years as more people choose to drink at home, a statistic described as heartbreaking by the area’s licensed trade association.
Fifteen pubs closed in Perth and Kinross during the same period, along with 10 in Dundee and five in Angus.
After a brief resurgence, Dundee lost 15 pubs last year alone to drag the city into a deficit over the eight-year period.
In 2010 there were 115 pubs and bars operating in the city. By 2016 there were 120, however come 2017 this number had dropped to 105.
Dundee Licensed Trade Association president David Glass, mine host at Doc Ferry’s in Broughty Ferry, said the past year has been difficult for the industry.
He said: “It is definitely difficult times. There are just far more hoops to jump through and spiralling rates, which is a huge issue and was a big, big thing last year.
“Speaking personally, our rates went up more than 100% before they capped the increase at 12.5%. But you had to pay the higher rate and then claim that back.”
Britain’s Beer Alliance, a group of organisations in the pub and brewing sector, has started a campaign called Long Live the Local with a petition and has urged people to write to their MP calling for a reduction in beer duty.
But according to John Barclay of Fife Licensed Trade Association, beer duty is a drop in the ocean compared to the high level of rates paid by pubs as opposed to supermarkets.
“Supermarkets pay rates by the square footage but for pubs and hotels it’s calculated according to how much alcohol they sell,” he said.
“It’s not a level playing field and it’s knocking the stuffing out of local pubs.
“It’s much cheaper to buy beer or wine in a supermarket and drink it at home but publicans have rates to pay.”
Mr Barclay, who ran the Millfield in Leven for many years before taking over the bar at East Fife Football Club, cited the recent closure of the Mayview Hotel in St Monans as an example.
“It was a long-established business but they closed their doors because they couldn’t afford the rates,” he said.
“It was the sort of place where people would go for a couple of drams and a blether with their mates but now they can get Asda to deliver an eight-pack to their doors so they stay at home instead.
“It’s heartbreaking. It really is heartbreaking.”
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, is backing the call on the Government to cut beer duty.
“Seven in ten alcoholic drinks sold in a pub are beer, so cutting beer duty is the most direct way of helping pubs,” she said.