SWINDON’S Campaign for Real Ale chairman has urged people to sign a petition calling for the abolition of tax hikes which threaten to wreck the pub trade.

Hans Hoffbauer backed the campaign as a push by Camra and the Adver to promote the town’s community pubs entered its final week.

The alcohol duty escalator, introduced by the previous Government, has raised the price by two per cent above inflation each year since 2008 The latest rise, in last month’s budget, comes at a time when pubs are closing at a rate of 33 week, according to industry figures.

Hans said: “We are calling for the escalator to be abolished.

“To increase by the rate of inflation is bad enough, but to add another two per cent is even worse. If the price keeps on increasing at this rate it will be hard for businesses to make a living.

“Some may be able to expand into food but what is certain is that people will buy fewer pints.

“If the price goes up by 5p or 10p, pubs will lose trade as customers on a budget will go to the supermarkets to buy cheap booze and stay at home in front of the TV. It will become hopeless for landlords to make a living out of selling beer if the price of a pint keeps going up.

“A third of the price of a pint is already taken up tax as it is, and if it keeps going up pubs will be priced out of the market.

“The Government also needs to recognise the importance of pubs as a community resource.”

Pubs are also struggling to compete with cheap alcohol in shops, which has led the Government to announce plans to introduce minimum prices.

In the past 10 years, the cost of a pint has gone up 43 per cent in pubs but just one per cent on off licence and supermarket shelves.

Camra is urging the public to support the e-petition, which already has 30,000 signatures, and which will be considered for debate in Parliament if it attracts 100,000 signatures.

Hans addressed the tax campaign on Swindon 105.5 on Tuesday when he appeared with the Adver on Des Morgan’s Roundabout Swindon.

He told listeners: “Camra should be able to achieve the number needed to trigger a debate as the organisation has more than 100,000 members, even if not all of them are on the internet. We want to do this before the next budget so we can stop another rise in the beer duty escalator.”

Visit saveyourpint.co.uk.