The closure of a pub always leaves a community in mourning, but in Peterborough one area has been affected more than others.
Last week the Peterborough Telegraph reported on the farewell party held at the Parkway Sports & Leisure Club in Lincoln Road which is believed to be the ninth pub or club in New England to have shut its doors in recent years.
The famed Crown to Town pub crawl is now, to the regret of many, a thing of the past, while longstanding members of the community have seen the area change drastically in recent years largely due to migration.
Charles Swift was a city councillor for 62 years and is president of Parkway PSL Ltd which sold the Parkway to Thistlemoor Medical Practice for it to use as a car park.
He said: “Over the last few years many public houses have closed within a mile and a half. You used to be able to do the Crown to Town pub crawl from New England into the city centre.
“Now they’re restaurants and supermarkets or flats. The character of the area has changed.”
Mr Swift highlighted a number of pubs which have closed, including The Old Locomotive, The Greyhound, the Triangle, The New Inn, The Windmill, Northfields Inn and the New England Club.
But not The Crown, which owner Peter Turnbull said is the only pub still on Lincoln Road. He told the PT: “I’ve been here five years and I have seen a decline in customers.
“Our regulars are frightened to come out at night because there are a lot of drugs going around. I can see the dealing and it’s getting worse and worse.
“People are also getting alcohol from shops.
“I’ve got a nice pub and after work people come in for a couple of beers then go home.
“I make a minimum profit but we’re not helped by business rates and the high tax on beer. I signed a lease for nine years last year and I have no intention of leaving.”
Another former community leader who has seen the area change is Brian Gascoyne, who until recently was chairman of the Millfield and New England Regeneration Partnership (MANERP) and has been the landlord of several city pubs, including The Crown.
He said: “People are drinking more at home before going out, and in New England there has been a huge change in the demographic of the area which does not lend itself to people drinking in the pub.
“It’s a great shame because pubs were – and some still are – great places for people to socialise.”
The Peterborough Telegraph asked the city councillors who represent New England for their thoughts.
Conservative member Cllr Mohammed Nadeem said he agreed with the points raised by Mr Swift and Mr Gascoyne, but added: “The other reasons are due to inflation – some people cannot afford to drink in the pub and some people buy drinks from supermarkets as they prefer to drink at home.
“The lack of business has negative impacts on pubs’ decor and services. This has also put off to pub users.”
Cllr Ansar Ali (Labour) said: “The decline in pubs in this area I believe is partly due to the gradual drop in people drinking alcohol. Pubs were also seen as places for people to meet and socialise and, unfortunately, society has changed and we don’t socialise with others as we used to.
“People are preferring to drink sat in front of their televisions at home. It is also partly due to demographic changes and the availability of alcohol around the clock.”