OPINION: Dr Foster and Silk star Neil Stuke on why we must take action to save pubs

Actor Neil Stuke. Picture: Charlie Dailey

Actor Neil Stuke. Picture: Charlie Dailey - Credit: Charlie Dailey

Actor and Dartmouth Park resident Neil Stuke has backed our campaign to save pubs.

Campaigners protest against the continued closure of the Dartmouth Arms pub. Picture: Polly Hancock

Campaigners protest against the continued closure of the Dartmouth Arms pub. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

In a column for the Ham&High, he writes: “We have to wake up to the fact that investors – usually offshore – are snapping up Britain’s pubs and destroying our cultural heritage.

Pubs are seen as low-hanging fruit and our weak planning laws make them an easy target to make money through conversion to luxury flats and mini supermarkets.

Communities across the country are rising up and, often funded with a little more than a whip round in a bar, are fighting top-flight lawyers to save their pubs.

If you want to keep your local and value your community, it is essential you make your voice heard.

At this rate we will have very little left for our children.

I was involved in the campaign to save the Dartmouth Arms pub in York Rise from being converted into flats.

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This is a prime example of the community coming together. The Dartmouth Arms was bought by offshore developers who wanted to convert the whole building into residential use.

Through hard work and campaigning from local residents and councillors we have managed to save the ground floor space and it is due to reopen as a pub in November.

Pubco companies are also running down pubs with inflated “beer tie” prices and rent to get landlords out. These chains are destroying pubs for future generations.

People have the wrong impression as they are told that pubs are no longer viable. But we can look to the examples of independent pubs which have been taken over by landlords who are not tied. They can make a massive profit.

Dave Mountford, landlord of the Boat Inn in Cromford, Derbyshire, is a prime example of this. He was a tied publican and then bought his own independent pub and is making money.

We have to accept that times have changed. People expect better surroundings and food from their pub.

But we need pubs or we will see a Britain where people don’t socialise anymore, community is disappearing and we need to get it back.

The actor Paul Newman used to come to Britain every year because he loved small village pubs.

We are in danger of becoming like a strange mid-western state in America with huge out-of-town supermarkets and small shops and pubs boarded up in villages.

The most profound thing about a pub closure is that once it is redeveloped it is gone forever.

I hope that now independent Ale breweries will start opening pubs. We should embrace the young breed of landlords you see in Dalston and Hackney.

A good example is in York Way where two old pubs have now been regenerated by young hipsters and turned into trendy pubs and you have to queue to get in.

I am all about community, society and neighbourhood.

Do we want a world where people don’t meet and socialise anymore? Where they just drive to the out-of-town supermarket?

Our pubs are vital meeting places at the heart of our community and we must fight to save them.”

Neil Stuke is an actor and resident of Dartmouth Park. He is currently appearing in the new ITV eight-part psychological thriller Paranoid playing DI Niles. He is also filming a second series of the hit BBC drama Dr Foster.