CAMRA will not represent all beer and cider drinkers

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

No thanks: CAMRA members vote against biggest change
No thanks: CAMRA members vote against biggest change
Members of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have voted against representing all pubgoers’ interests and all beer and cider drinkers at its AGM in Coventry at the weekend.

For the changes to go ahead, 75% of members needed to vote in favour. However, to the dismay of many, 72% said they wanted to widen the scope of the organisation.

Almost 18,000 members had their say about the 47-year-old organisation’s future in an online vote ahead of the AGM and at the meeting, which took place on Saturday and Sunday (21-22 April).

This followed CAMRA’s largest consultation, beginning in 2016, which gathered the views of 25,000 of its 190,000 members.

Former CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine, who gave way for incoming chairman Jackie Parker at the AGM, set out plans to widen its scope in January​ this year.

Changes the meaning of CAMRA’s existence

At the AGM, members voted to remove the organisation’s current 'objectives' in CAMRA’s Articles of Association, which effectively changes the meaning of CAMRA’s existence, the organisation said in a statement.

In place of CAMRA’s old objectives, the members approved the following changes:

  1. To secure the long-term future of real ale, real cider and real perry by increasing their quality, availability and popularity
  2. To promote and protect pubs and clubs as social centres as part of the UK’s cultural heritage
  3. To increase recognition of the benefits of responsible, moderate social drinking
  4. To play a leading role in the provision of information, education and training to all those with an interest in beer, cider and perry of any type
  5. To ensure, where possible, that producers and retailers of beer, cider and perry act in the best interests of the customer

There was not, however, a majority vote in favour of the biggest proposal, an adjustment that would have drastically changed CAMRA, which was to act as the voice and represent the interests of all pubgoers and cider drinkers.

Despite this, the UK’s largest consumer organisation said it will increase its focus on educating members and non-members about different beer types.

Of the decision, beer writer and The Morning Advertiser ​columnist Pete Brown wrote on Twitter: “Bye bye CAMRA: 1971-2018. RIP. You did so much good. It was nice knowing you. What a shame you couldn’t change to reflect the very revolution you hoped to bring about, and did. Looking forward to meeting your heirs.”

Fellow beer writer Melissa Cole wrote: “Soooo, CAMRA just crossed into full cult mode then! This just passed: "Ensure CAMRA beer festivals, that choose to offer other types of beer, do so in a way that reinforces CAMRA’s belief in the superiority of real ale.”

“The recommendations for change that we made to the membership were based entirely on feedback received from members when we consulted with them as part of the Revitalisation project,” said Valentine.

All but one resolution agreed

“We’re delighted that all but one of the special resolutions was approved, which shows the majority of members agreed with the consultation findings that CAMRA needs to change to remain a relevant and effective campaigning organisation.”

CAMRA heads would now work to move the organisation into a position the members have voted for, but areas with votes of 'no confidence' from members would have to be considered.

“We appreciate that while the majority of members voted in favour of most of the recommendations, there is some disagreement about how we deliver the required changes,” added Valentine.

“Those who called for more far-reaching changes, which has not been supported in the vote, and those who disagree with any change, can be confident that their contribution to the campaign remains as value as ever – and that all members can continue to work together to achieve common objectives.”

Discover more about the AGM, CAMRA’s future and the reaction to the voters’ decisions on The Morning Advertiser ​later today.

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