‘Badge of Honour’ to protect UK pubsBy Neal Baker
A new initiative aimed at slowing the rate of pub closures in the UK has been unveiled by the Campaign for Real Ale and the “community pubs” minister Marcus Jones MP.
The first “This Pub Matters” badge is being presented to the owners of a small community pub in Buckinghamshire this week, the first of an expected 3,000 to be awarded as a mark of their “Asset of Community Value” status by 2016.
Asset of CommunityValue, or ACV, status is an accreditation recognised by local councils in England to help the prevent closure or demolition of local businesses or buildings.
It is hoped that the badges, which are also being sent out to 800 community pubs across the country that currently have ACV status, will drum up support in communities for their local pubs in an effort to stem the sweeping closures affecting the pub trade.
The latest figures now show that an average of 29 pubs close every week in the UK. Suburban areas are the worst affected with 17 closures per week, while 9 rural pubs and 3 high street pubs are shut per week.
Marcus Jones, a junior minister at the department for local government in charge of community pubs, said, “The Great British pub is a national treasure which is why we brought in new powers so people can help protect their local by listing it as an asset of community value.”
Illustrating the positive impact that ACV status has had to his pub business, Ian Robertson, owner of The Hare and Hounds in Blackburn, which received the accreditation in 2013, said: “In November 2014 the Hare and Hounds was on its knees, Enterprise was closing it and it was about to be sold off to become a supermarket or flats. I had been outbid on the initial auction.
“Deploying the ACV had the desired impact on planning regulations and before contracts were exchanged Enterprise had to re-run the bid process. This time I was successful based on restrictions as to what the premises could be used for.
“Without the ACV there is no doubt the building would now be a supermarket or turned into flats. It saved the pub from going under and the locals have grasped it and made it thrive. It’s been a winning combination.”
Pubs looking to receive ACV accreditation are being asked to visit www.camra.org.uk/listyourlocal to apply.