Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Pointless petitions

Nowadays, you can hardly log on to Facebook or Twitter without being asked to sign a petition in favour of something or other, whether on the Government website or sites such as change.org. Although this may give the impression that you’re doing something to change the world, in reality more often than not it is just a substitute for action that achieves nothing beyond producing a mild feeling of warmth.

Many of these petitions involve protests against the closure of pubs. To pick an example at random, here’s one about the closure and potential revelopment of the Crown Hotel at Worthington near Wigan, a former runner-up in CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year award. WhatPub suggests that the pub remains closed, but hasn’t so far been demolished.

But, to stand any chance of success, a petition must be addressed to a specific body, not just be a generalised howl of despair, and must be realistically achievable. If a pub operator has concluded that a pub is no longer profitable, are they really going to be convinced by two hundred names of people who hardly went in there anyway? And, while a council can refuse planning permission for conversion or redevelopment, they run the risk of ending up with an empty, mouldering building on their hands.

It still doesn’t seem to be properly appreciated that, over the past couple of decades, the demand for pubs as drinking places has collapsed, so it is not exactly surprising that so many have struggled and shut their doors. According to the website of the British Beer & Pub Association:

Beer sold in the on-trade in the UK (million barrels):

12 months to December 1997: 26.2
12 months to December 2007: 18.7
12 months to December 2016: 12.9

So, over 19 years, beer volumes have more than halved. They fell by 29% over the first ten years, then by 31% over the next nine. Looking at those figures, what is perhaps surprising is not that we’ve lost so many pubs, but that we’ve lost so few. Sadly, all too often, petitions against pub closures are nothing more than an exercise in railing against fate.

If communities want to preserve something that approximates to a traditional pub, they are increasingly going to have to stump up themselves rather than expecting a commercial operator to do it for them. It is significant that this year’s CAMRA National Pub of Year, the George & Dragon at Hudswell in North Yorkshire, is a community-owned pub. That’s something that’s going to become more and more common in the years to come.

12 comments:

  1. Stumping up to a community owned project? Are you having a laugh? You'd have to be a right mug to fall for that one! The moolar is better off in my pocket where it can be spent on cheap cans of lager than given to some beardie do-gooder to run an empty pub no one goes in.

    I'd rather sign a petition to spend someone else's money on these types of futile and pointless endeavours, thank you very much. That way it costs me nothing but I get to feel I've done something about it.

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    1. The Anglers Rest at Bamford in Derbyshire seems to be making a pretty good fist as a community-oned pub

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    2. yeh but you don't have to be one of the mugs what stumped up to save it in order to go in and use the the bogs. It's open to everyone.

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    3. Nice non-sequitur, Cookie. Did you learn your debating skills with the Young Conservatives?

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    4. I wasn't learning owt in yoof labour except shouting "racist" at people so I found a higher league standard of game ;)

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  2. On the headline subject I do wonder if petitions themselves have had their day in the electronic age as you can soon get thousands of names. Famously a landlord who was suspended in one town I knew got thousands of supporters,though only a few tens of regulars ever went in the pub,but everyone latched on to it,even though hardly anyone knew details of the minor case.On the beer consumption figures the volumes speak for themselves,and this translates into less bill paying cash in the tills of course,and all the will in the world has to convert into cash eventually somehow,unless a hobby or non profit making club etc.

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    1. beer sales down? so what? Food sales up. Prossecco sales up. The money is in the stuff people want, not the stuff they don't

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    2. "beer sales down? so what? Food sales up. Prossecco sales up. The money is in the stuff people want, not the stuff they don't"

      I know you like to be provocative but what you seem to be saying is that it does not matter if wet led pubs close. Gastro pubs, family dining pubs and wine bars maybe viable options but they don’t work in all locations and whilst they might appeal to a new clientele they may not be welcoming or attractive to previous regular pub goers.

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    3. It's obvious that any increase in food and Prosecco sales doesn't compensate for the decline in beer sales, especially for urban locals.

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    4. 2 dinners @ £10 each + 1 £10 bottle of Prosecco = £30. Table used for 2 hours max. Multiple covers per evening possible.

      That's 10 pints of £3 bitter + No drunks + No smelly old codgers.

      Oh and I am saying it doesn't matter if wet wet pubs close. People vote with their wallets. They would not close if that's what people wanted. You lot wanting it is not everyone else wanting it.

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  3. Can we have an online petition to make Cooking Lager go away?

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    Replies
    1. You could all have a wip round, buy me a slab of Carling, then I'd be too busy to read beer beer blogs and rock on. Thing about it. If you put a couple of quid in. Gotta be worth it, eh?

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