OTLEY is continuing to buck a national decline in the number of pubs.

Figures published this week show that between 2011 and 2016 the number of town centre bars, pubs and night clubs fell by some 2,000.

The statistics from the Local Data Company show that over the same period coffee shops, restaurants and fast food outlets have flourished.

In many parts of the country those findings confirm the state of affairs at local level - but not in Otley.

Instead the market town has actually enjoyed an increase in its number of bars over the past year, while also welcoming several new cafes.

Otley Pub Club believes that's the sign of a community in good shape.

Secretary Bob Brook said: "Although it’s clear from the figures that there has been a rise in the number of coffee houses over the past five years, and that it coincides with a fall in the number of pubs, I don’t think the two are related.

"Everyone is already well aware of the pressures from pubcos, developers, business rates and the rest, that are forcing pub closures. On top of that, our traditional pubs by their very nature are big buildings and are getting older, so they are much more of a drain on finances.

"But the two certainly aren’t mutually exclusive.

"Otley Pub Club is delighted four new quality coffee houses opened in town last year. It shows the town centre is thriving, and provides a new range of offers to customers, and an attraction for visitors.

"Otley is also one of the few towns - in fact we might be unique! - where the number of pubs has actually increased over the past year."

The town's MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) is Chairman of the British Pub Confederation and also, until recently, chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group.

He said: "We all want a thriving retail offer in Otley and I commend the work of the Chamber of Trade, Town Council, Otley BID and Otley Town Partnership in supporting this.

"Despite real challenges it is great to see so many thriving businesses, shops, pubs and cafes in Otley.

"When it comes to pubs, it is great Otley has bucked the trend and actually has more than a few years ago, cementing its reputation as a famous pub town.

"We also have many wonderful cafes which are a hugely important part of the local offer, and here the cafes and bars work well together.

"It is key the town has a sustainable number of businesses of any one kind, rather than more and more competing for the same customers.

"Above all, it is important Otley maximises its tourist potential and I pay tribute to Councillor Paul Carter and the town council for their recently published tourism strategy, and to Otley Pub Club for the reprint of the Historic Otley Ale Trail."