BREWERY giant Thwaites has put eight pubs up for sale across East Lancashire.

But the Campaign for Real Ale has accused the Blackburn-based firm of imposing strict rules for would-be buyers which mean the sites can no longer be run as pubs.

The pubs put up for sale are:

Accrington: The Adelphi, Avenue Parade.

Blackburn: The Plane Tree, Whalley Old Road; Sportsman’s Arms, Shear Brow; Gibraltar, Gibraltar Street.

Colne: The Commercial Hotel, Skipton Road.

Darwen: The Mill Gap, Bolton Road; The George, Bolton Road.

Padiham: The Victoria Hotel, Burnley Road.

Michael Kershaw, from CAMRA East Lancashire, said: “We firmly believe that the market should decide whether a pub is viable.

“The business model at Thwaites may not work with these locals but that does not mean that local entrepreneurs cannot make a success of these pubs.

“They should at least be given the opportunity to do so.”

However, such convenents were defended by Licensed Victuallers’ Association representative Geoff Sutcliffe, who is also landlord of the Rising Sun, Whalley New Road, Blackburn.

He said: “A lot of these pubs are in areas that would not be viable anyway.

"I think we have got to be realistic about this.

“This sort of practice will sort out the weak pubs from the strong because, at the moment, there are too many pubs around.

“This is a business decision. Thwaites would not sell a pub if it was viable.”

Earlier this year, the House of Commons Business and Enterprise Select Committee criticised pub chains for selling on premises with restrictive covenants.

It led Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns to scrap the practice.

The commercial websites selling the Thwaites properties confirm that the Adelphi, Avenue Parade, Accrington, and Victoria Hotel, Burnley Road, Padiham, must not be used as pubs.

The firm selling the other six pubs does not reveal such terms online.

Andrew Buchanan, director of pub operations at Thwaites, said: “The company does not make decisions to dispose of pubs lightly.

“It does not employ restrictive covenants lightly either.

“In every case where Daniel Thwaites has employed a restrictive covenant, it has done so after much soul-searching and deliberation.

“The only motivation for Daniel Thwaites in this regard is to ‘de-pub’ areas where high pub density is detrimental to the survival of the trade as a whole.

“In conclusion, we can confirm that the pubs highlighted are being marketed with restrictive covenants.

"However, this does not necessarily mean that they will be sold with a restrictive covenant.”