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By AMANDA BOWES

Hawarden Tavern has been put up for sale by the Hawarden Licensing Trust (HLT) after running out of options to keep it going.

HLT Trustee Tim Elms, says the past few years have proven financially nonviable for lessees and in turn the trust,which looks after the land and buildings for the local community which owns them.

“The sale of the tavern is a very sad one, but we have run out of ideas and money. A public meeting was held a couple of weeks ago which was well supported but no-one had any fresh ideas on how to turn it around,” says Mr Elms.

Drink drive laws, social attitudes and the availability of cheap alcohol in supermarkets have all contributed to the decline of patronage to not only the Hawarden Tavern, but other country pubs as well.

Mr Elms says the cost to the trust to keep the tavern open each year is high, with auditors and accountant fees at the top of the list for expenses – accounting for 58% of income.

Then there is insurance, maintenance and rates to take into account.

“Any profit (net) made from leasing the pub, should be going back into the community, but we haven’t been able to do that for years.”

With ideas coming to a halt, the only option has been to put the pub on the market, with the current license as part of the sale.

Mr Elms says the company who will auction the Hawarden Tavern are very experienced in selling hospitality businesses and it is hoped that proceeds from the sale will go back into community groups.

The tavern itself will be auctioned first along with a garage, three cabins, ablution block, caravan and camping park, chattels, plant and equipment.

The house which is also looked after by the HLT and owned by the community will be auctioned after the tavern in a separate sale.

It is not alone in its struggle for survival as indicated in a recent report by the Controller Auditor General to the Government on “The Challenges Facing Licensing Trusts”.

Many smaller licensing trusts throughout New Zealand are struggling to stay viable and have turned to selling their assets as there is no alternative.

Licensing trusts were set up in the 1940s as part of the relaxation of prohibition. By 1975 there were 28 licensing trusts in New Zealand and now there are only four remaining that hold exclusive rights for the sale of alcohol.

The trusts are accountable to their community through the election of trustees every three years, which are held on the same day as local body elections.