CAMRA members reject bid to represent all beer, cider and perry drinkers

At its AGM held in Coventry over the weekend, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) members voted against widening the organisation’s remit to represent all beer, cider and perry drinkers, however new diversity and equality policies were approved.

While arguably the largest change was not approved, members did vote in favour of all but one of the national executive’s recommendations, first announced back in January. 

Almost 18,000 organisation members voted either online or at the AGM, which took place on 21 April.

In order to approve the changes, motions required 75% of the vote or more. The objective which recommended that CAMRA should ‘act as the voice and represent the interests of all pub goers and beer, cider and perry drinkers’ only received a vote of 72% and thus narrowly missed out on approval.

Among the changes that were confirmed was the removal of CAMRA’s former mission statement. The new objectives render the organisation “more inclusive, relevant and welcoming,” according to the body.

Members voted to approve the following:

  • To secure the long term future of real ale, real cider and real perry by increasing their quality, availability and popularity
  • To promote and protect pubs and clubs as social centres as part of the UK’s cultural heritage
  • To increase recognition of the benefits of responsible, moderate social drinking
  • To play a leading role in the provision of information, education and training to all those with an interest in beer, cider and perry of any type
  • To ensure, where possible, that producers and retailers of beer, cider and perry act in the best interests of the customer.

While CAMRA will not officially represent the interests of the wider beer, cider and perry community, it will put extra resources into educating both members and non-members on different types of beer. This, CAMRA’s head of communications Tom Stainer told db before the AGM, could involve “developing a training arm – either independently or in partnership with established operators – to offer a range of courses to improve beer
education”.

Furthermore, despite the result, the organisation said it will campaign for ‘real’ cider and perry for the first time and has stated that pub and club protection is one of its key objectives.

Members also agreed that CAMRA’s beer festivals should not be limited to serving real ale and also called for new diversity and equality measures. A controversial motion to reduce tax relief for small breweries was also overwhelmingly defeated, while it was also voted on that members should not demand or expect discounts from pubs or breweries.

CAMRA’s outgoing national chairman, Colin Valentine said: “The recommendations for change that we made to the membership were based entirely on feedback received from members when we consulted with them as part of the Revitalisation Project.

“It was the largest consultation CAMRA has ever carried out and we listened to the views of over 25,000 of our members, who filled in online surveys and attended consultation meetings across the country.

“We’re delighted that all but one of the Special Resolutions was approved, which shows the majority of members agreed with the consultation findings that CAMRA needs to change to remain a relevant and effective campaigning organisation.

“We appreciate that, that while the majority of members voted in favour most of the recommendations, there is some disagreement about how we deliver the required changes. We need to do all we can to reassure all members that our core campaigning objectives remain focussed on real ale, cider and perry as ever. Those who called for more far reaching changes, which has not been supported in the vote, and those who disagreed with any change, can be confident that their contribution to the Campaign remains as valued as ever – and that all members can continue to work together to achieve common objectives.”

The new national chairman, Jackie Parker, added: “It’s been a very successful and forward looking weekend and it’s very positive to see our members voting to approve motions which are designed to be proactive and positive and help position CAMRA as a welcoming and inclusive organisation – aiming to improve consumer experiences, rather than telling people what they should or shouldn’t be drinking.”

Commenting on the new diversity and equality measures, national director Abigail Newton said: “Embedding equality and diversity into the organisation is not going to be a simple or quick process, but this motion will help to start the changes we require to make CAMRA an organisation which is welcoming to all. Individuals are more likely to join and remain members of CAMRA if they can see that our membership includes people who look and think like they do. Change requires leadership and while enacting this motion might be challenging, it’s is our duty to provide it”.

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