AFTER a lifetime working in pubs John Bellinger quit the trade last year.

The 58-year-old and his wife Trisha left the Bell Inn in Adderbury in April after six years behind the bar.

Mr Bellinger now works as a bus driver for Oxford Bus Company but has maintained his links with the pub trade by becoming chairman of the North Oxfordshire branch of Camra.

As an 18-year-old he got his first job behind the bar at the Littlemore Royal British Legion club. Since then he has been the licensee at eight pubs.

He said he was forced to leave the trade because of the impact of the the increase in the beer duty accelerator system introduced by the Government in 2009, which sees a series of tax rises pencilled in until 2014.

He said: “Since that was introduced, the beer duties have increased by 42 per cent. Publicans are tax collectors now.”

He said that the ban on smoking in public places, including pub bars and the recession were other reasons fewer people were using their local pubs.

He added: “The traditional pub is the heart of the community.

“It’s where people go, not just to drink and eat, but for company and to meet up with friends.

“But people don’t have the money and they resent paying more for their beer than they did a few years ago.”