Fear over future of city’s pubs and clubs following yet another closure

Malcolm Shipman says bars like his are up against it due to a lack of support.
Malcolm Shipman says bars like his are up against it due to a lack of support.

A bar owner fears more pubs and clubs could go bust in the city unless greater support is provided.

Malcolm Shipman, who runs Black Mass live music venue on King Street, spoke out following the recent closure of the Wakefield Beer Exchange on The Bullring.

Coun Jeffery says the night time economy is important to the city.

Coun Jeffery says the night time economy is important to the city.

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The owners said it was simply unsustainable with costs outweighing takings, and Mr Shipman says other landlords are continuing to feel the pinch.

He says cheaper pirces for alcohol in supermarkets continues to dent profits, but says business rates and rents are also taking their toll.

He said: “They make it difficult for businesses like this, that’s why a lot of places shut down.

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“Everyone is suffering, and it should not be about putting the prices up.

“The entertainment industry is one of the biggest we have and it’s going down dramatically. The councils and the government are destroying the industry, nothing else.”

Mr Shipman moved onto the venue on King Street nearly two years ago having previously run the Snooty Fox on Brunswick Street.

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Still running live music nights at his new venue, which he calls Snooty Fox Live, he says stringent council policies which insist he employs doorstaff means he is often left out of pocket.

He says nearby pubs often have more drinkers through the door on a night out, but they do not require additional staff on the door.

“I’m wanting to build it up and we’re moving in the right direction but we are up against it,” he said.

“Nobody is doing us any favours, not that I have ever asked for any, we just want a level playing field.”

But Wakefield Council insists that the nighttime economy still plays a vital role but say bar and pub closures are ‘symptomatic of a national trend’.

They say a number of news bars have opened in the last 18 months and more are in the pipeline.

Coun Denise Jeffery, cabinet member for economic growth and regeneration, said: “The night time economy is a priority for the council and the Business Improvement District (BID). The council is looking at ways of developing it as part of the long-term economic plan.”