Since 2007, 703 local pubs in Scotland have shut, the Scottish Borders losing 20 per cent of its pubs in that period, according to Local Pub: Local Hub?, an independent report commissioned by Carling brewer Molson Coors.
Molson Coors, however, highlight the importance of pubs, with them often acting as “local stand-ins” for disappearing community amenities such as social clubs and community centres.
Phil Whitehead, managing director of Molson Coors Scotland, said: “Our experience has shown that helping smaller drinking establishments continue to provide a traditional service and a great atmosphere for all customers makes a big difference.”
Their report shows that in March 2007 there were 97 pubs in the constituency of Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, as opposed to just 79 pubs five years later in March 2012.
Local MSP John Lamont said:“It is undoubtedly worrying that so many pubs in the Borders have had to shut over the past five years. A fifth of pubs we had five years ago are now shut and many which are still in business are having to work harder and harder just to stay afloat.
“Pubs can be of great importance in some local communities, acting as a meeting place for people to catch up and socialise. With so many Scots visiting their pubs on a regular basis it is clearly important that we give them our support so they can remain open for years to come.
“Pubs are also vital employers, offering opportunities in a climate when many people are finding it hard to gain a job. With over 50,000 jobs and generating £1.5bn of our national GDP in Scotland, the beer and pub industry is vital to our local and national economy.
“While alcohol must always be consumed responsibly, I would encourage as many Borderers as possible to support their locals. We need to get behind them before we have to see even more of them forced to shut.”
One community that took matter into their own hands was Birgham, near Coldstream.
A consortium of local people bought the Fisherman’s Arms in 2008 after the council turned down plans to turn it into a coffee shop. They turned it into a community pub, and four years later it’s still going strong.
Consortium director Kevin Mills said: “Birgham really had nothing else. The campaign really brought people together, some hadn’t spoken to one another before.”