REAL ale is pulling in more punters in East Lancashire than ever before, according to campaigners.

John Webster, chairman of East Lancashire branch of CAMRA, said cask ale was undergoing a revival thanks to local breweries such as Thwaites in Blackburn, Moorhouses in Burnley and pub chains such as Wetherspoons.

The popularity of real ale has seen the organisation, which campaigns for consumers rights with respect to the beer and drinks industry, welcome its 1,000th member Steven Banks, from Trawden.

Beer enthusiasts raised a toast when they presented him with a certificate at the Bridge Bier Huis in Burnley to mark the milestone.

John said: "The big pub companies such as Punch or Enterprise have realised that real ale is their best bet to avoid bankruptcy. "It is now the biggest growth area in wet sales for both companies.

"But until our governments stop using the drinks industry as a cash cow and refrain from imposing above inflation tax rises and they accept that binge drinking is caused by supermarkets selling cans at below cost price, we will continue to lose over two pubs per day.

“I hope the government are finally going to do something about the unfair system operated by the PubCo’s whereby licensees are charged up to 45 per cent more for a guest beer than a Freehouse would have to pay.”

He said more young people were turning their backs on lager in favour of real ale as it was available in town centre pubs.

He added: “Love them or hate them, Weatherspoons have changed the whole pub scene in our town centres.

“An increasing number of pubs now sell real ale. Only few years ago the majority of town centre pubs only sold lager or keg, now many have at least one handpump.

"There is a general trend among British people to reject mass produced food and drink.”