"List it or lose it": Liverpool CAMRA's rallying cry to UK pubs

By Ben Winstanley

- Last updated on GMT

"List it or lose it": Liverpool CAMRA's rallying cry to UK pubs

Related tags Public house Campaign for real ale

Liverpool CAMRA has encouraged more campaigners to protect their pubs after successfully attaining Asset of Community Value status for the famed Roscoe Head.

It highlights the prominent issue of whether ACVs are being misused by those looking to stave off property developers, following recent withdrawal of a number of pub ACVs​.

One of only five pubs to have featured in every edition of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide across 43 years, the pub was one of dozens included in recent a multi-million pound sale by Punch Taverns to retail property investor, NewRiver Retail.

Geoff Edwards, press officer for Liverpool CAMRA, said: “I imagine Punch would aim to exploit successful pubs to boost their income which makes it surprising it has chosen to sell to New River, describing the Roscoe as a ‘non-core pub’.

“Punch said the sale of the 158 pubs would allow it to ‘focus on our higher quality core pub estate,’ this sounds pretty insulting when you think of the Roscoe’s heritage."

Carol Ross, the current licensee and passionate supporter of community pubs, said: “We need to reclaim our pubs, back into the hands of landlords who are prepared to work hard to make a decent living. My Dad is looking down on me and I know that he’d say ‘Carol, you’re doing a grand job, don’t let them push you down’.

“It isn't even my pub. This belongs to the customers, the community, it’s our pub and that’s what matters.”

Roscoe Head
Carol Ross (pictured) is in an ongoing battle to save the pub her family has run for over 30 years.

While ACV status only affords a degree of protection, for the time being the Roscoe Head is safe from change of use, thanks to an organised campaign and series of rallies held outside the pub.   

“Clearly volunteer resources are limited and we should focus on those pubs with a clear Community focus, while accepting that the loss of any pub means one less place serving real ale, but The Roscoe is a national treasure.”

“ACVs are more than just a stay of execution, it is a legal instrument – it provides a focus to a larger campaign. It won't stop pubs being sold as pubs but it may act as brake on their being sold for development,” Edwards said.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s national Chairman attended one of the Roscoe rallies where he emphasised CAMRA’s policy of promoting pubs as community assets through submission of ACV’s, which is now achievable through a greatly simplified process.

“What the Roscoe Head campaign has achieved is draw attention to the huge numbers of pubs that are regularly being lost. People are beginning to wake up to the reality of things they have taken for granted being under threat,” Edwards explained.

“My motto would be ‘list it or lose it’. We haven't persuaded New River to "sell it to Carol" just yet but it does seem to be rattled by the publicity.”

For Punch’s part in the matter, though it refused to comment on events after the Roscoe Head sale, a spokesman said: “When selling a pub, wherever possible, Punch will consider offers from Publicans, if a commercially viable offer is made. Punch has sold pubs to Publicans in the past and will continue to do so when appropriate.

“In the case of the Roscoe Head we provided a guide price to Carol Ross of what we would be prepared to sell for, but the subsequent offer made was significantly below this guide. Therefore we would not sell on this basis. The pub was subsequently sold as part of a larger package which made commercial sense to Punch.”

Corporate diplomacy aside, what makes commercial sense to a pubco isn’t always in the interest of the licensee – a pill that will remain difficult for many to swallow.

The PMA recently discussed ACVs at its roundtable, more information and practical resources available here​. 

Photos by James Maloney

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