The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has launched a new initiative to support licensees running community pubs and aims to protect 3,000 pubs, as new statistics reveal 29 pubs a week are still being lost.
CAMRA will be mobilising its members in England to support their local pub by nominating it as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and offer advice and guidance to other community groups and licensees themselves looking to do the same.
With 800 pubs currently nominated, the initiative aims to raise the profile of ACVs to the pub-going public, and increase the number with the status to 3,000 by the end of 2016. CAMRA admits it is 'an ambitious target', but claims it 'is essential if England’s pubs are to be properly protected'.
“We want pub-goers to value their local pub and one way in which they can show their support is by nominating it as an Asset of Community Value. ACV status really should be seen as a badge of honour by licensees as it shows a real commitment by the surrounding community to the future of the pub, as well as creating positive publicity. CAMRA are going to be promoting and highlighting pubs with Asset of Community Value status as we believe it shows a pub is valued, and deserves protection.” Tom Stainer, CAMRA’s head of communications, said.
He added: "We believe that ACV listing should be welcomed - and encouraged - by licensees who genuinely want to continue building their pub businesses and providing a fantastic local service to their communities. ACVs make no difference to those pubs and in fact offer a host of benefits for those licensees, give greater protection to tenants and also, we believe, enhance the chances of selling a pub on as a going concern.
"Ultimately our ACV campaign is about protecting pubs for the communities which currently use them, and for future generations of pub goers, as well as giving licensees who intend to carry on running pubs as going concerns as much help and support as possible."
CAMRA also claim ACV status can be valuable for licensees tied to the large pub companies as it 'stops the pub being sold off without your knowledge' - and can be useful for all licensees as proof the pub is valued and well-run, something which can be useful when applying for extended opening hours or planning permission for expansion.
Commenting on the figures, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “We remain surprised at the pub closure numbers as these do not appear to reflect the increasing confidence we are now seeing in the pub sector, very much supported by Government action on beer duty, business rates and other measures introduced. Indeed our analysis of 2014 Ratings data showed the rate of pub closures falling.
“The BBPA supports the use of ACVs where the pub in question is genuinely of community and societal value and is likely to be subject to change of use in the near future. However, we do have concerns that new planning requirements for pubs nominated/listed as ACVs may reduce their value which has a clear effect not only on our members, but also for independent pub owners.
"On this basis we also are strongly opposed to blanket listing of pubs. It is even more important that robust evidence for ACV listing is provided on a pub-by-pub basis and each case considered on its own merit.”
For more information about the ACV campaign, please visit here.