The recent figures that show a rise in pub numbers is welcome news for our industry.

The figures, which showed that the number of small pubs and bars opening had risen for the first time in 15 years, follows on from news in December that showed the number of pubs in the UK increased in 2019 for the first time in a decade.

As licensees, we know how hard you work to keep your pub going and to create a thriving and welcoming environment for your punters.

And after years of decline, the fact that numbers are starting to rise is extremely encouraging. But it still feels like we've got a long way to go - and it's inevitable that we will need a helping hand to get to that point.

Nik Antona is the CAMRA National Chairman. He said: "We cautiously welcome the trend these figures suggest, that small pubs and bars are beginning to 'bounce back' after years of decline and figures have increased between 2018-2019 nationally.

"Unfortunately pubs continue to close across the country, particularly in small or rural communities. This means the loss of the social, cultural and economic benefits that come with a well-run local.

"To ensure pubs survive and thrive, they need a fair tax system and stability going forward. CAMRA continues to call on the Government for a review of the business rates system and a lower rate of tax on beer sold in pubs."

If CAMRA's plea to the government is granted, it could really help our industry to move forward. There are many thriving pubs in our great cities that will no doubt continue to succeed and will keep their doors open for years to come.

But it's often the smaller pubs that suffer, especially in smaller communities. Our independent pubs play a great role in being at the heart of the community, providing an avenue for people to get out of the house and preventing social exclusion.

Going forward, we need to ensure we are supporting each other and doing what we can to keep the heart of this wonderful industry beating and hopefully seeing more pubs opening up across the UK.