Just as many thought they might have to shut the doors permanently because of the rise in electricity prices, it appears they are bang on song. Many have enjoyed a bumper Christmas and are looking forward to successful New Year as communities gather together for a drink with friends.
Pubs have suffered to an extraordinary degree over the past decade as increased competition from retailers have made it harder for them to sell drinks. Many have diversified to offer food as a central part of their trade while others have shifted to improve their links with the local community.
Those that have survived are reaping the rewards for their hard work as they enjoy a profitable festive season that provides owners with good cheer. There is much to celebrate. Pubs are important for our communities, particularly in rural areas, where isolation can affect individuals. A number of pubs have been transformed into family spaces for food and conversation and they are the glue that binds a number of towns and villages.
Such companies as Marston’s are hugely important to the region. Marston’s is a big employer in the West Midlands, both through its head office and also because of its big network of pubs. It is great news that its message is so upbeat after a torrid couple of years. We should congratulate its directors for steering a course through the challenges of the pandemic, Brexit and the cost of living crisis, while also singling out all those who work on the ground and make such a difference. Hard-working landlords and landladies, as well as their staff, are behind the success.
Large parts of the West Midlands are urban sprawl. But the region is also blessed with wonderful open spaces, particularly in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire.
Our rural economy is important and farming is a large part of the West Midlands – we are , after all, in Archers country.
Jill Mason has attempted to de-mystify the countryside in her new book. It sounds like an entertaining read and will also be educational as well.
It is useful for all of us to know of the value of our rural areas and their importance in keeping the nation fed through agriculture, milk and meat production. While we may associate heavy industry with our region, we should also remember the fundamental importance of the region’s agricultural community. Farmers help to shape and conserve the landscape as well as putting food on the table for many. They play a pivotal role.