Community Pubs Month highlights importance of local engagement

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

The Old Crown Pub in Hesket Newmarket, Cumbria, is believed to be the first 'co-operative pub' in the UK
The Old Crown Pub in Hesket Newmarket, Cumbria, is believed to be the first 'co-operative pub' in the UK
The list of pubs now being run by their local communities is gathering pace, but over a third of pub-goers visit their local less often than they did 12 months ago. 

Those are the findings of two somewhat contrasting reports from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), released as part of the organisation’s Community Pubs Month, which takes place throughout April and encourages pubs to organise events​ and try out new marketing initiatives to drive trade.

The first bit of research found that over 50 pubs across the UK are now being run by their local communities, many of which were facing closure before being saved by locals.

“With 28 pubs closing every week there is still much more that needs to be done to protect pubs, but it is heartening to see that the desire and drive to save pubs is something which is clearly there amongst the pub-going public,” said Camra’s chairman Colin Valentine.

Community spirit

Many of the pubs which have most recently been purchased by their local community were listed as ‘Assets of Community Value’, or ACVs, which means should they be threatened with closure the local community is notified and given a six-month period to raise the money to purchase the pub.

Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis is fully supporting for Camra’s Community Pubs Month, which looks to raise the profile of the Great British Pub. “Pubs are at the heart of thousands of villages and towns across the country providing an essential place for millions of people to get together, this is why campaigns such as Camra’s community pubs month are vital in getting people to go to their local,” said Lewis.

“The government is also playing its part to support the local pub, by abolishing the last government’s cider tax, cutting red tape on live music in pubs and as the Chancellor announced in the budget by taking another penny in tax off a pint. 

“We have also given people the power to list local buildings as assets of community value to protect them from sell off, and so far this has included 300 pubs and I know that working with CAMRA and its members we will get that number higher still.”

CAMRA recently announced it had reached its target of 350 pubs listed as Assets of Community Value across the UK and that its sights are now set on adding a further 100 in the next 12 months.

Last orders?

But are these local watering holes being visited? A second report from Camra, also released today (1 April), found that 38 per cent of British adults ‘never’ visit the pub and over a third (36 per cent) of pub-goers visit the pub less often than they did just 12 months ago.

The independent research, commissioned by CAMRA, also showed that 80 per cent of pub-goers have never been communicated to by their most local pub but 24 per cent of these people said they would be encouraged to visit the pub more often if they were informed of what events the pub had planned.

Valentine added: “In 2009, 27 per cent of adults ‘never’ visited pubs and in just five years this figure has increased to 38 per cent. Many of these people (40 per cent) state they do not use pubs because they no longer drink alcohol or have reduced the amount of alcohol they drink. Great community pubs are not only about enjoying alcoholic drinks.

“They are great places to relax, socialise, eat and spend time with the family. Camra and the pub industry have to work hard to get this message out and events such as Community Pubs Month will give us the platform to do this.”

Community Pubs Month

Camra was also concerned to see regular pub-goers - those that visit pubs ‘once a week or more’ - had decreased from 24 per cent to 15 per cent in the last five years.

But here’s where Community Pubs Month comes in. The initiative encourages pubs to organise a number of events throughout the month and try new marketing initiatives to improve their communication with their communities to ultimately drive more local trade into their pubs.

Camra’s previous pub campaigns have highlighted in the media the important role pubs play in our communities. They have raised over £100m for charities, employ over 500,000 people and along with the brewing industry add £19bn to the economy.

For more information, visit www.communitypubscampaign.org.uk​. 

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1 comment

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Posted by Richard Thomas,

if just pubs posted events on Facebook alone - regularly - with information on who, what, where, when. Or run Facebook ads targeting the immediate local area to get likes up for the pages it would make a real difference to bums on seats.

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