|Bull and Swan, Diseworth, Nottinghamshire. Proud to be a Former Pub|
All over the country at beer festivals and other shindigs evidence of CAMRA's compromise at HQ level is printed on brochures and flyers emblazoned with recruitment ads for tenants to occupy Pubco tied pubs... I'm not making any of this up, this is not the blinkered opinion of someone with a skewed view of what is happening to Pubs and an unrealistic view of the potential viability of thousands of pubs that are closing forever, it's not rocket science, it's observation. CAMRA HQ are up to their neck in the sticky dirty doodoo of the #GreatBritishPubcoScam
CAMRA HQ get away with it by publishing and speaking soundbite platitudes (always alongside a 'right to reply appearance by the British Beer and Pub Association) about how important pubs are to community and society while letting concerned, hard working, diligent volunteer foot soldiers to run on hamster wheels trying to save pubs all over the country, saying:
'ACV and Article 4 directives, used as tools in conjunction between local communities and CAMRA branches work well to protect pubs from inappropriate development, and government has made support and grants available through the coop and Plunkett Foundation, Power to Change, More Than a Pub' initiatives relating to the Localism Act 2012' etc. All sounds very reasonable, thougthful and sensible.
Whereas, frankly, it's ALL piss in the wind. It's an imperious arrogant view that ignores the well informed membership on the ground's knowledge and clear understanding of what really is happening to THEIR local pubs translates into almost ZERO impact on the reality; The published ambitions of the programmes they bang on about the impressive £3.6 million grant stream 'aim' to 'help up to 80 communities save their pubs in the next three years' during which time 'officially' another 3,270 pubs will be divested by the pubcos to close forever and be rendered into alternative use. It is utterly pathetic. The measures CAMRA HQ officially support are not even statistically measurable against the tsunami of pub closures.
To add insult to injury here ask ANYONE in Britain:
'For every pub saved by a community how many communities mobilised to save their local pub and failed, outwitted by well funded developer, intransigent estate agents and a pubco / freehold owner reluctant to even communicate with the community group?' and, I guarantee, no one knows, that is NO ONE is monitoring the success rate of grass roots community save the pub campaigns against the failure rate. If it's not measured there are no grounds for saying the community pubs' movement that has sprung up around ACV nominations has any significant impact whatsoever.
The community groups who succeed in saving their pubs rightly get loads of column inches and even get into the Mainstream Media and broadcast all over the country. This on a balance against no news being good news where the failures ONLY get a mention when the pubs are being marketed as a new coop shop or for sale as luxury spacious residential homes like this travesty of journalism bizarrely doing the work of the developer and estate agents FOR them, for free (?).
Overall this gives an impression that there is a point to the community cooperative pubs' movement; ie: That it IS saving pubs and IS adequate to the challenges before us when palpably it is not capable of dealing with anything like the scale of the crisis. And, it IS a crisis. While palpably there IS a very valuable point to encouraging communities to mobilise the fact is they do not have the tools, and cannot hope to have them, to be able to act effectively, they are being set up for failure and the amount of news coverage the successful groups/pubs get belies the pissing into the wind reality. AND then people who are prepared to point this all out politely are completely sidelined and ignored (as in the hundreds, at least, of genuinely well informed and determined CAMRA members as mentioned above) and people like me who only try to be honest and unblinkered... And when we get vociferous we experience being deliberately isolated from the Top End discussion and being characterised as 'militant' 'noisy' 'ill informed' 'unrealistic' and 'dreamers'.