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Chippies are ‘facing extinction’ due to the cost of living crisis

Over half of the UK’s chip shops have been forced to reduce their opening hours to save money

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The Atlantic Fish Bar & Sykes Fish and Chips / Facebook

Fish and chip shops are teetering on extinction amid the cost of living crisis, an industry body has warned this week.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) is calling upon the government to cut VAT to help chippies up and down the country with their soaring energy bills, the BBC reports.

NFFF President Andrew Crook revealed that around 66% of chip shops have been forced to reduce their opening hours to save money, resulting in a fall in staffing levels of four people per shop.

He said: “Unfortunately this is potentially an extinction event for small businesses… It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

Sykes Fish and Chips / Facebook

The federation has secured a meeting with ministers today to push its message that the industry needs help.

A government spokesman said it is supporting businesses ‘of all sizes by slashing fuel duty’ and introducing a 50% business rates relief.

Read More: Three chippies from Greater Manchester named among the very best in UK

The spokesperson said: “We are working closely with industry to mitigate the impact our sanctions against Russia may have on British businesses, including through the creation of the £100m UK Seafood Fund.

“We’re already supporting businesses of all sizes by slashing fuel duty, introducing a 50% business rates relief for eligible high street businesses and put the brakes on bill increases by freezing the business rates multiplier – worth £4.6 billion over the next five years.”

@chipsno8 / Instagram

In a bid to help struggling chippies, vinegar brand Sarson’s launched its #SarsonsFryday campaign at the start of the month, which has seen hundreds of dinners be reimbursed throughout August.

Bryan Carroll, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Sarson’s, said: “The rising cost of living means we’re naturally all looking for ways to cut down our expenses, and sadly, one of the first thing that consumers cut back on is meals out and takeaways, leaving many of our favourite chippies at risk.

“As we enjoy the warmer weather, we wanted to help the nation support their local so we’re making everyone’s favourite day of the week even better with #SarsonsFryday.

“Whether it’s a staycation with friends, seaside visit with the whole family or a quiet Friday night in, we want to make sure Brits can get their fish and chip fix – so this summer, it’s on us!”

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Wetherspoons to sell pubs as it records £30m in losses

Wetherspoon’s sales are down 4.3% this year

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JD Wetherspoon

Wetherspoons has put over thirty of its pubs up for sale as it records losses of £30 million, something boss Tim Martin says is a ‘momentous challenge’ for the business. 

While the pub chain has seen a rise in sales compared to last year, its numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels.

In the year to July, Wetherspoon’s sales were down 4.3% to £1.74 billion. For comparison, the company recorded sales of over £1.8 billion for 2019.

The chain opened seven new pubs during the year, and sold, closed or ended the leases on fifteen others. In July, the business ran a total of 852 pubs across the country.

Wetherspoons

But in response to its revenue losses and pressures brought on by the cost of living crisis, Wetherspoons is now selling off thirty-two of its pubs from its estate, including nine in London.

Martin said in a statement: “During lockdown, dyed-in-the-wool pub-goers, many for the first time, filled their fridges with supermarket beer – and it has proved to be a momentous challenge to persuade them to return to the more salubrious environment of the saloon bar.”

He added: “The company has improved its prospects in a number of ways in recent financial years.

“We own an increasing percentage of freehold properties, the balance sheet has been strengthened, interest rates have been fixed at low levels until 2031, and we have a large contingent of long-serving pub staff and underlying sales are improving.

Wetherspoons

“However, as a result of the previously reported increases in labour and repair costs and the potentially adverse effects of rises in interest rates and energy costs on the economy, firm predictions are hard to make.”

Martin also slammed the tax advantages supermarkets have over pubs as a ‘competitive disadvantage’ when it comes to paying VAT on food.

He said: “This competitive disadvantage has had an increasingly debilitating impact on the hospitality industry and will undoubtedly result in long-term financial weakness vis a vis supermarkets – which will also be harmful to employees, the Treasury and the overall economy.”

The 32 pubs up for sale:

Barnsley – Silkstone Inn
Beaconsfield – Hope & Champion
Bexleyheath – Wrong ‘Un
Bournemouth – Christopher Creeke
Cheltenham – Bank House
Durham – Water House
Halifax – Percy Shaw
Hanham – Jolly Sailor
Harrow – Moon on the Hill
Hove – Cliftonville Inn
London Battersea – Asparagus
London East Ham – Miller’s Well
London Eltham – Bankers Draft
London Forest Gate – Hudson Bay
London Forest Hill – Capitol
London Hornsey – Toll Gate
London Holborn – Penderel’s Oak
London Islington – Angel
London Palmers Green – Alfred Herring
Loughborough – Moon & Bell
Loughton – Last Post
Mansfield – Widow Frost
Middlesborough – Resolution
Purley – Foxley Hatch
Redditch – Rising Sun
Sevenoaks – Sennockian
Southampton – Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis
Stafford – Butler’s Bell
Watford – Colombia Press
West Bromwich – Billiard Hall
Willenhall – Malthouse
Wirral – John Masefield

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Peter Kay has been doing some ‘top secret’ gigs in Salford

‘It was the weirdest but best experience ever’

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Peter Kay has been keeping busy this week with a string of ‘top secret’ comedy shows at a theatre in Salford.

People heading into the secluded shows at The Lowry were made to hand in their mobile phones prior to the gigs, and allegedly had to ‘whisper’ which show they were seeing when collecting their tickets.

Fans who were able to secure the tickets took to Twitter after the gig, with one person even saying it was the ‘best night of my life ever’.

Paula Bear, who admitted that she thought the gig was a ‘scam’ at first, wrote: “Omg just been to a secret gig with Peter Kay at The Lowry.

“Best night of my life ever, that guy is a legend. Phones in locked pounces, secret ticket collection, the lot.

“Still buzzing.”

Replying to someone’s question about the gig, Paula added: “It was the weirdest but best experience ever.

“He is just such a grounded fella. The gig was really raw and unpolished which was what made it so personal.”

The secret gigs have fuelled speculation that the Phoenix Nights star is preparing for a huge ‘come back’ tour in 2023.

A source close to the star said back in May: “He has lined up huge venues across the country including in Manchester, London and Birmingham and is hoping to announce it in September.

“Peter has not performed a live stand-up set on a big stage in well over a decade now but he could not be more ready to get back out there.”

Kay took a step back from comedy in 2018 after cancelling his live arena tour due to ‘unforeseen family circumstances’. 

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‘Lovely’ dad from Wigan died after struggling with mental health issues

The twenty-nine-year-old allegedly kept his emotions to himself in the wake of his mother’s death

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Gaz Lancaster / Facebook

A ‘lovely’ dad from Wigan died by suicide after a lengthy battle with mental health issues, an inquest has heard this week.

Dad-of-two Gareth Lancaster was found unresponsive at his home on Baytree Road, Beech Hill, at around 8pm on June 8th.

Emergency services were called and Gareth was rushed to Wigan Royal Infirmary, where he was taken into intensive care.

However, doctors suspected he had a severe brain injury, which was confirmed thirty-six hours after admission thanks to brain stem tests.

The decision was then made to withdraw life support.

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Gaz Lancaster / Facebook

Gareth, who worked as a plumbing and heating engineer, died on June 10th aged twenty-nine, with his cause of death recorded as hypoxic brain injury due to hanging.

According to his partner Tandia Constantine, Gareth – known among friends and family as ‘Gaz’ – was not the kind of person to seek help, and had kept his emotions to himself when his mother died from cancer.

Coroner Peter Sigee said a handwritten note was found at the scene, which he interpreted as ‘a statement of intent on Gareth’s behalf to end his life’.

He concluded that Gareth had died by suicide, saying he was satisfied that he intended to end his life.

During the hearing, Gareth was described as a ‘funny, hard-working and outgoing’ man who ‘doted’ on his two children and liked socialising with his family and friends.

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Gaz Lancaster / Facebook

After the hearing, Zena Ralphs, the mother of Gareth’s partner, said: “He was a lovely lad. He was the best lad you could ever meet, the hardest worker you could ever meet.

“His little ones have no daddy now.”

If you’re struggling with mental health issues, there are people out there you can talk to.

For confidential support the Samaritans can be contacted for free around the clock 365 days a year on 116 123. You can also email the Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org, write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA or visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.

You can also contact the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) at 0800 58 58 58 or via their website here.

Alternatively, you can find more mental health services around Greater Manchester on the NHS Foundation Trust website.

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