Will it be third time lucky for CAMRA?

By Andy Slee

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Public house, Beer, Camra

Andy Slee: "Will it be third time lucky for CAMRA as we face a new dawn for pubs across the UK?"
Andy Slee: "Will it be third time lucky for CAMRA as we face a new dawn for pubs across the UK?"
I support Stoke City Football Club and have done for 42 years. I saw them lose at home to Blyth Spartans, in an FA Cup Final, and have been at all points on the emotional dial over the years.

Going to Stoke matches is an important part of my life. Like all fans I have firm views on all aspects of the club, especially on the team, transfer policy, management and tactics.

There will be football supporters across the land reading this, recognising like me, the critical part they play in the fabric of their club. To you, a question: does your club consult you on transfer policy, wage or bonus structure for the players, team selection and hiring on the manager? Thought not.

No business exists without customers and in the pub trade we have the biggest consumer group in Europe, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). I am a member myself and applaud their passion.

To some they are seen as the “experts” in brewing beer and running pubs, when in reality they do neither.

In the aftermath of the historic vote to break the beer tie it became clear the role CAMRA played in influencing MPs. The voice of the beer drinker spoke to give Government unprecedented control over the running of a sector that employs one million people and pays billions a year in taxes.

Democracy in action, say some. Cheap beer for all, they claim.

Naive

But before we get too carried away, let’s reflect on previous CAMRA interventions into pubs.

I was Nottingham’s freetrade rep for Bass in 1989, the year CAMRA successfully lobbied for the now universally maligned Beer Orders. Local brewers in the city at that time celebrated what they thought would be a new era. Home Ales, Mansfield Brewery, Shipstones and Kimberley Ales were their names. Remember them?

A decade later CAMRA leadership reflected they had been “naïve” as they saw the unintended consequences of their actions unfold before their eyes.

CAMRA had also predicted a new dawn for pubs in the aftermath of the smoking ban. The one million non-pubgoers would be attracted back. Result? Thousands of pubs shut as drinking habits changed to in-home consumption as supermarkets saw an opportunity to drive footfall with cheap prices.

New dawn

So, what of the vote? Will it be third time lucky for CAMRA as we face a new dawn for pubs across the UK?

For pub customers and the one million pub employees I hope so. But if CAMRA are right then Government economists, British real ale brewers of all sizes, property experts, pub investors and industry pundits will all be wrong. 

History will ultimately be the judge but if they’ve got it wrong on pubs again, at least St Albans may be kept busy on another campaign in a few years’ time.

Look out for me at Anfield on Saturday for Liverpool v Stoke City, though not in the dug out.

Andy Slee is external affairs and central operations director at Punch Taverns

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2 comments

Mr Slee's much needed haircut

Posted by Fred Bloggs,

It’s apparent that Mr Slee is being less than economical with the truth in yet another pubco sponsored article on all that is good with current beer and pub market. It isn’t that way it all is Mr Slee? And if you’d taken your head out of the trough for long enough you would have seen the damage your company and others that copy your business ethos have heaped on undeserving publicans and consumers across the UK. The beer tie and those that operate it have dropped a slow burning atom bomb on the sector with the only people surviving it are those wearing pubco sponsored radiation suits that come complete with off shore bank accounts and built in blinkers so that they don’t accidentally look sideways and witness the trail of devastation.

There aren’t many pubco supporters and it’s truly laughable to see those close to the money bowing to their master’s whims in the hope seeing some of it. They never do of course because it’s a hereditary closed shop. You’re either in the family or on the firm. Most people are neither and I expect Mr Slee hasn’t worked that out yet. It’s all very British In suppose; “they may not be good but at least there our boys”!

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Sleazy slee

Posted by Luke,

So glad you can enjoy Anfield, the home of my beloved liverpool. I would love to go, however my experience with pubcos and family brewers has left me with next to nothing. I am sure the money you and your fellow crooked chums have squeezed out of most of your tenants gets you a nice box or a season ticket for Stoke. If you had ran your business with an once of morality or social conscience we would not be in this situation we are in now. Dont you dare be so condescending to people who have used there last pennies after you have stole everyhting from them to show the world exactly what you are to protect others from the same fate. You wont understand that Mr Slee, its called morality.

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