With 800 pubs already listed as Assets of Community Value (ACVs), 'we're well on the way to the target of 3000,' said community pubs minister Marcus Jones MP.
Speaking after presenting the first 'This Pub Matters' badges of honour to ACV-awarded licensees at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival at Olympia yesterday, Jones stressed how important he felt this joint initiative between his department and CAMRA was. 'Local pubs are part of the British fabric,' he told Imbibe.com, adding 'CAMRA has been very keen to support this.'
Originating with the Localism Act of 2011, the original ACV scheme allows the community to bid for an ACV-listed pub should it go up for sale. The legislation was updated in April 2015 to include planning protection, preventing pubs being converted into flats or shops, or demolished without consultation.
Latest figures show 29 pubs closing per week, over half of which are in the suburbs. 'It's not a silver bullet,' CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine said of the ACV legislation. 'Will some pubs still close? Yes. But now there is due process, where there wasn’t before.'
Stressing his support for those pubs that have diversified their offer, Jones said 'It’s not just opening the doors and serving beers. These days far more are food-led. There’s even pubs in Cornwall which are [considering] opening fish processing centres within their doors.'
The minister applauded the communities that have saved their local, as the regulars in Littlehempston in Devon have done with the Tally Ho. 'I visited the Tally Ho a week ago,' he said. 'It’s a charming pub with hundreds of years of history. A massive community asset. I have real admiration and like what they have achieved with their share offer.'
Commenting on the state of British brewing, Jones said 'There’s a renaissance. We have got the best beer in the world. And don’t forget, 80% sold in the UK is brewed here.'
ACV status can be applied for by nominated groups within a community, be it a Parish Council, CAMRA group, or self-nominated group of at least 21 individuals. CAMRA has produced guidance materials for those pubs or communities wishing to apply for ACV status, available at www.camra.org.uk/listyourlocal, and is running two workshops later in the year for communities interested in finding out more.