LETTER: Let’s value the British pub

In your paper of 26th February I read of the demise of the Lamb Inn at Ripe.

As landlord of a pub in another remote village I can understand why the Lamb has struggled to survive, and I can assure the residents that this will not have been a deliberate act by the brewery.

(Also, for them to suggest that the brewery intentionally put in “unsuitable landlords” is hugely insulting to those tenants, who have quite probably lost their life savings as a result of what was almost certainly a well-meaning attempt to make a success of the pub). Your opinion writer gives a much more balanced view.

Also this morning I saw on TV a truly horrifying CCTV film of a drink-drive accident which resulted in the death of an innocent lady crossing the road at a puffin crossing when the lights were clearly red.

The driver of the car, who has been convicted of causing death by careless driving, was more than double the drink-driving limit.

Why am I linking these two stories? It is because the second, tragic item is being used by the anti-drink lobby to justify the reduction of the current drink-driving limit from 80mg of breath to 50mg – a move that would close hundreds more country pubs.

The driver in this accident had a blood-alcohol reading of more than 160mg, and clearly wasn’t paying any respect to the current limit. (The long list of banned drivers published by Sussex Police over the Christmas and New Year period showed unbelievably high blood alcohol readings. Clearly none of these gave a hoot about the current limit.)

We have seen NO statistical evidence for the number of accidents caused by drivers who give breath-test readings between 50 and 80mg.

Yes, we all know that any alcohol at all has an effect, but is this effect that significant at these levels?

Certainly it is no more significant than the distraction caused by using mobile phones, for example, and I would hazard a guess that more accidents are caused by this than by drivers below the current limit.

The survival of country pubs is now totally dependent on the availability of food, and nearly all of our food trade comes from outside the village.

If you are not lucky enough to be on a decent bus route then this requires our customers to drive.

Many of those, having chosen to eat in a pub, will then want to have a beer with their food – often just one pint, and sometimes an additional half.

(This is not guesswork on our part – we serve these people every day).

They believe that this is sensibly within the limit and will not significantly impair their driving.

But part of their motivation for coming to the pub has been the availability of cask beer, and if the limit is reduced so that they cannot even safely drink just one pint then perhaps they’ll stop coming altogether – the limit was reduced in Scotland in 2014, and has resulted in a significant increase in the number of rural pubs closing.

If the limit is similarly reduced in England and Wales the same will happen. We’ll see many, many more villages losing their pubs – often, as in our case, the last remaining centre of their communities.

So – please – let’s start to value the great British pub. Let’s support the Police wholeheartedly in their efforts to enforce the current sensible limits, and let’s stop this nonsense of trying to harmonise ourselves with Europe. Pubs don’t exist there.

They could soon disappear here.

Andy Brooks

The Laughing Fish

Isfield, Uckfield