Pubs fighting to survive across Fife and Perth and Kinross must be supported if they are to remain the hub of their communities, says Liz Smith MSP.
Almost a quarter of Scotland’s pubs closed over the past decade and a scoping study by the Scottish Government on the pub sector has underlined the challenging conditions pubs, both rural and urban, currently face.
The report revealed that there had been a 23% drop in pub numbers between 2005 and 2015, with on-trade sales of alcohol dropping by 30.4%.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that rural pubs have been particularly badly hit. The number of pubs trading in Scotland in 2015 was 4,550.
In England and Wales, there was a 20% contraction in pubs over the same period.
The report highlighted some of the main challenges facing the pub sector with the impact of drink driving laws cited as having a “predominantly negative” effect on performance.
“There are rural towns across Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire with just a post office and a pub to serve the local community,” said Ms Smith.
“The viability of these places is under threat if the local pub follows the bank branch and exits the high street.
“Travel to Aberfeldy, Alva and Alyth and these places all have one thing in common, the local pub.
“Rural pubs need the support of government and it is disappointing to note the negative impact changes to the drink drive law have had on this sector.
“Helping rural pubs with business diversification support could ensure that they are able to meet these challenging circumstances and survive for the next generation.”