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Real ale fans suggest staggered opening times to boost pub trade

Real ale enthusiasts in Medway are suggesting publicans adopt a rota system used in Germany whereby opening times are staggered to boost trade.

Ruhrtag, which means “rest day”, is an agreement among landlords in the area to close one day a week to spread around income and not open on quiet days.

In Germany it is run by the local council and enforced by the police.

Real ale fans are calling for a more German approach to beer. Stock image
Real ale fans are calling for a more German approach to beer. Stock image

Alan Jefferies, chairman of Medway CAMRA, said: “Some pubs are forced to stay open whether they have clients or not. The agreement is only for a year and landlords can choose their ‘closed’ day. This can be adjusted when large events occur, like the World Cup or a royal wedding.”

Mr Jefferies said high rents and rates, beer costs and the smoking ban had contributed to the demise of pubs across the Towns.

He added: “It’s clear the better maintained pubs seem to have a better welcome. Some owners have let their pubs become very tatty and who wants to drink in a moth-eaten old pub?”

But he said the increase in the number of micropubs was encouraging and attracting better beer choice and socialising.

Pubs in rural areas had been affected by tighter drink-driving rules, but those which have introduced improved menus, including catering for vegetarians, had benefited.

Those with a friendly landlord or landlady also tended to do well as did some smaller, cosier establishments.

The North Foreland in Rochester
The North Foreland in Rochester

Mr Jefferies said: “What can be done to improve the situation? Tidy up and keep decent, clean toilets.

“In the last five years, parts of Medway have seen a strong revival of great pubs, old and new. Even so pubs are still closing. The situation for pubs in Medway is not great, but it’s far better than it was.”

CAMRA has taken on a pubs officer to monitor the situation across the Towns.The Medway branch has 660 members.

Medway CAMRA’s pub of the year is the Past and Present micropub, Skinner Street, Gillingham. Its club of the year is the Smallholders’ Club in Wigmore.

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