Pubs are treasured spaces of Britishness – it’s time that we do more to save them

WHEN I heard the pub in the village close to where I grew up had closed I thought: “We can’t allow this to happen to the community.”

The Half Moon, in Kirdford, West Sussex, is one of three pubs where we used to hang out on a Friday night and the other two had already gone.

2019 Beer Drinker of the Year Jodie Kidd has issued a plea to the next Prime Minister in the hope that he will give pubs a break
Rii Schroer / eyevine
Jodie Kidd runs The Half Moon country pub in West Sussex

Developers were sniffing around to turn it into homes and once that happens there’s no chance of getting a pub back. The British boozer is in crisis.

More than a quarter of all pubs have closed in the past two decades, from 52,500 in 2001 to 38,815, according to the Office for National Statistics. We are losing three pubs a day. At this rate we will see the end of the British pub within our lifetime.

So I got together with two friends who, like me, had never been in the licensed trade, to rescue this wonderful, warm, welcoming, Grade II listed building so everyone can continue to enjoy it. And I am not alone.

I know of whole communities that have got together through crowd funding to save their local, with £1.6million being raised through internet donations for various establishments last year.

People are coming to realise that we can’t afford to lose these treasured spaces. There is no social network that can beat the pub, particularly in a world so insular where people have their noses in a mobile phone the whole time.


It is so important people sit up and have a good chat, whether it is with a stranger at the bar or one of the staff. Workers come in after grafting and want to speak to the barmaid about what a hard day they’ve had, about the van breaking down or the tractor engine blowing up.

Pubs often have football teams, darts, dominoes, quiz nights and are a venue where many great bands played their first gigs. In other places you will find a small shop at the local, because the village one has closed.

At The Half Moon we sponsor the village cricket team, have Women’s Institute meetings with tea and cake in the morning, charity events and people come to celebrate weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

And no, nanny state meddlers, this isn’t about encouraging drinking, it’s about popping down to the local for a pint once or twice a week, which isn’t going to do any harm.


The pub is now a place that families visit and I want everyone to treat it as their home.  My mum is in the garden, my dad helps out and my son Indio comes in to ask our head barman: “Can I have the usual please” — by which he means an apple juice and a packet of crisps.

I had noticed pubs closing, but I hadn’t realised the reason until I became a landlady myself. Someone needs to give this industry a break. Landlords and land–ladies can only make tiny margins on the beer they sell, due to the high taxes they have to pay.

That’s why I got involved with the Long Live The Local campaign last year to help pressure the Government into freezing beer duty. Everything is trying to kill this incredible part of British culture, whether it’s business rates, beer tax or sugar tax.

Our rates are three times the European average and we pay almost 40 per cent of all beer duty across the EU, while drinking only 12 per cent of the beer. But the industry employs around 900,000 — many of them young people — and puts £23BILLION into the economy.


I can’t thank The Sun enough for its support in helping our campaign. I don’t think we would have received as many signatures without the help of you, the readers. Thankfully, the Chancellor listened to our case, agreeing in the last budget not to raise duty on beer.

Sin taxes are high enough already and I hope the next Prime Minister will give us a break. It was an honour to be named 2019 Beer Drinker Of The Year by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, which promotes the unique role of the pub in our society.

Certainly there is hope that this great institution can survive by changing with the times and adapting to new tastes.  It is amazing seeing all the microbreweries and gin distilleries starting up, with a new generation enthusiastic about real ingredients.

The gastro pub movement also offers customers the quality food they desire. We were proud that our restaurant received two AA rosettes for culinary excellence in the first six months.

But there is also a need for a pub to be a pub, where customers can come in with their wellies or work boots. At The Half Moon we have good dining on one side and an old-fashioned fireplace that drinkers can gather round on the other.

For the first year I was there all the time, but now it’s wiping its own nose, so I go in two or three times a week — it’s my other jobs that pay the mortgage. It’s a great place to wind down, particularly on a Sunday, and it brings me a lot of joy.

When I got the lease for the pub, a friend advised me to make sure I stood back once in a while to peer through the windows to see people having a good time. That’s why Britain’s pubs have to be saved.

Jodie got involved with the Long Live The Local campaign last year to help pressure the Government into freezing beer duty
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My top 6 beers

  1.  Silly Moo Cider – Sussex beef farm’s apple cider
  2. The Dark Moon ale – from local micro brewery
  3. Birra Moretti lager – a crisp, light lager
  4. Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter – a very popular ale
  5. Samuel Adams – a great lager
  6. Estrella – there’s nothing better than a crisp cold pint of this beautiful beer


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