Pubs need "fairer business rates" to help them survive after seven shut down in Bolton over the pandemic, a publican and leading councillor says.

The last few years have been a difficult time for pubs, with Bolton in particular having been one of the worst hit areas of the country by the Covid crisis.

Findings show that before the pandemic there are now just 171 pubs in Bolton, seven down from 178 before lockdown.

Cllr Sean Hornby, landlord of the Queens Hotel in Bradley Fold, said: “Obviously the pandemic was a difficult time, but pubs were struggling even before lockdown.

“One of the problems is if you look at the difference in the price of beers between a freehold pub and a tenancy pub its massive.

“But also, and this is a big one, the way business rates are calculated on pubs is based on historic income but there are certain pubs, particularly in the town centre who seem to be exempt.”

He added: “I’ve argued there should be a fairer way of calculating business rates on pubs.”

The figures were uncovered by the Altus Group, which shows that 111 pubs were closed across the North West since the start of the pandemic, with many now likely to be demolished or redeveloped for new buildings.

Cllr Hornby, who represents Little Lever and Darcy Lever, said: “I certainly know that in Darcy Lever there’s only one pub left now when there used to be five.”

He added: “When people see the pubs are busy they think we must be making a fortune but we’re not.

“You make enough to make a living but that’s about it.”

Nationwide, the British Beer and Pub Association has also called for more relief to help landlords.

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “When pubs are forced to close it’s a huge loss to the local community, and these numbers paint a devastating picture of how pubs are being lost in villages, towns and cities across the country.

She added: “It’s essential that we receive relief to ease these pressures, or we really do risk losing more pubs year on year.”