Published: 00:01, 31 December 2018
| Updated: 20:20, 31 December 2018
Sobering statistics show a fifth of the pubs in Maidstone, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells pulled their final pints in the last decade, and no longer exist.
Yet, while the number of establishments has declined, more bar staff are employed now than 10 years ago.
The figures come from the Office of National Statistics' Economics of Ale report, which charts the fortunes of the pub industry since the 2008 recession.
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There are now around 100 pubs and bars in Maidstone, an estimated 20 fewer than a decade ago.
One in six pubs in the borough have closed while 25, the equivalent of one in four, have shut in Tonbridge and Malling.
Meanwhile, in Tunbridge Wells, one in five pubs, a total of 20, closed over the same period.
But the turnover of the pub industry has remained strong, as larger chains focus on bigger bars at the expense of smaller pubs.
The report suggests this may be because surviving pubs have moved onto offering more labour-intensive services such as food or accommodation.
In 2008, the average pub in Maidstone employed five people.
Now, the figure stands at eight. Alongside this, there has been a rise of 25% in the total Maidstone pub workforce, to 1,250 this year.
The rise in Tonbridge and Malling was 43% and 29% in Tunbridge Wells.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) says communities suffer as small local pubs are lost.
The organisation has called for reform to business rates and cuts in beer duty to help tackle the loss of pubs.
It also wants a full review of the Pubs Code, which governs the relationship between firms which own 500 or more pubs and their tenants.
Tom Stainer, CAMRA’s chief campaigns and communications officer, said: “These shocking figures show the huge loss that has been felt by communities as beloved locals have closed down.
“By focusing on the stability of turnover from pubs and bars since the recession this study fails to measure the loss of the benefits that local pubs bring to their communities.
“Pubs play a unique role in offering a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends, they help combat isolation and loneliness and help people feel connected to their community.
“We need the government to act now to save our pubs from extinction.”