Sunday, 12 October 2014 20:39

Rural pubs are community hubs

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural pubs are community hubs

A TYPICAL rural pub injects £100,000 into the local community – and is much more than just a place to drink.

The impact of pubs on rural communities in England was measured by Ignazio Cabras, a reader at Northumbria University's Newcastle Business School's Newcastle Business School.

The eighteen month research programme examined the importance of pubs in shaping community cohesion and social wellbeing across rural England.

Dr Cabras said: "Rural pubs inject between £80,000 and £120,000 into their local community and have become community hubs which foster social engagement supporting integration among local residents and newcomers.

"While the impact of rural pubs on the community has long been understood to positively benefit the community, this report is the first time that the direct impact of pubs on the local community has been proved."

The study, which looked at 2,769 English parishes, also involved Dr Matthew Mount, now a lecturer at Leeds University Business School.

It focused on pubs in rural communities or parishes with fewer than 3,000 people situated at least five miles (or 10 minutes' drive) from towns or larger parishes of 5,000 inhabitants or more.

Pubs in England have experienced a significant decline in the past two decades and parishes with fewer pubs showed lower levels of community cohesion.

There are now just over 49,000 pubs in Britain today, compared with 69,000 in 1980.

The research found the closure of rural pubs to be strongly associated with the decline of social drinking and increasing levels of alcohol consumption in private premises.

But Dr Cabras said: "The English rural pub is not simply a place for drink, it has become a hub for the community's infrastructure offering events, support and friendship.

"Pubs function as physical hubs which foster engagement and involvement amongst the community, as well as creating jobs for locals and local suppliers."

Researchers examined information such as the availability of local facilities and services, the size of the resident population and the level of employment.

Dr Cabras said: "It appears that the pub has increased its importance as the main hub in the community's infrastructure, offering support to a wide range of activities.

"Pubs function as physical incubators which foster engagement and involvement among the community, as well as creating jobs for local people and local suppliers."

Further analysis conducted on a sub-sample of 293 parishes confirmed that the positive effects pubs have on rural communities are maintained over time.

The study highlighted a strong relationship between the presence of pubs and social events and activities – much stronger than that for other facilities such as sports halls and other infrastructure.

These findings match those gathered from a similar study on rural pubs in Ireland, also led by Dr Cabras and completed at the beginning of 2014.

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