Two licensees have hit out against their pubs being awarded asset of community value (ACV) status.
Steve Coxshall, owner of the Duke of Hamilton, which is one of the 12 pubs being considered as part of blanket ACV listing submitted to Camden council by a community group in Hampstead, north London, described the locals as “hypocrites who just want to be heroes”.
“None of the locals who have put this application forward drink in my pub. Practice what you preach: the only people who save pubs are the people who put cash behind the bar. About 95% of the people who come and see the theatre and live music at my venue aren’t from Hampstead.
“Locals aren’t the ones who are feeling the financial pain and they aren’t the ones who have to pay the rent.”
His comments join a growing backlash from independent licensees over ACVs. Freeholder Stuart Matthews of the Bull Inn, Charlbury, west Oxfordshire, voiced his anger after his pub was given an ACV when he applied for planning permission to convert it into dwellings.
Matthews said: “I understand that ACVs can be enormously helpful in protecting pubs against large developers but we’re a private enterprise with just one site. We applied to change the use of the site on the basis the town is well subscribed with alternative venues. Even selling the pub wasn’t an option because pub prices have been so decimated.
“Communities can apply for pubs to be ACVs but there’s no law that says they have to use the pubs. It’s handcuffs slapped on you by a very one-sided piece of legislation.”
Charlbury, a town of 2,000 people, has another three pubs alongside numerous sports and social clubs and cafés.
West Oxfordshire district council said that the Bull Inn met the criteria for an ACV and was therefore listed accordingly but declined to comment further.
Matthews contacted his local MP, Prime Minister David Cameron, about the listing, who confirmed he had spoken to the district council and been assured the correct processes had been followed.
Steve Culverhouse, an ex-licensee who now runs pub consultancy firm change-of-use.com, warned ACVs can often rule out fast or urgent sales and leave little incentive for entrepreneurs to revive listed pubs due to the six-month waiting period.