A CAMPAIGN group has urged drinkers in Southampton to get behind a bid to save the city's ailing pubs from closure.

The Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) has thrown its weight behind Southampton City Council after it called on the Government to change the planning laws and help halt the number of watering holes from closing and being turned into convenience stores and takeaways.

As reported by the Daily Echo, council leader Simon Letts wants communities secretary Eric Pickles to hand back power to local authorities so they and residents have a greater say in what happens if a pub is forced to shut up shop.

The campaign is believed to be the first of its kind by a local authority and comes after the closure of several popular pubs across the city including The Castle in Midanbury, Achor and Hope in Freemantle, the Bulls Eye in Sholing and The Woodman in Lordswood.

Joining them is The Bittern in Thornhill Park Road which looks destined to become a McDonalds.

The support from CAMRA comes as it launches its own campaign looking at how important pubs are in the lives of people in Britain.

They say statistics show that more than 70 per cent of people have celebrated someone's birthday in a pub, while nearly half of us have attended a wedding reception in a watering hole.

CAMRA's Southern Branch, Rob Whatley, said: “I think it is important to keep as many pubs open as we can and anything that helps make it easier to fight closures in any way is a good thing.

“We certainly fully back the campaign to save the city's pubs and I think it will be good if all the local authorities considered the issue in the same way as Southampton City Council.”

“I hope that some of our local MP's will raise this issue and get it discussed to help people who are trying to save local pubs.”