Our first direct collaboration with an Otley pub to put on a ‘meet the brewer’ event [with Ilkley Brewery] was a great success at The Horse and Farrier last week. It was organised to coincide with the start of our membership drive, which was also advertised in Otley Matters, and which we hope will lead to a massively increased membership over the coming 12 months. We signed up 20 new members just at the event itself, and the website is still attracting new applications at the rate of 2 or 3 a week, even before the drive started. So a big thank you to Luke from Ilkley Brewery for an entertaining and informative evening, and to Matt at the H&F, who tells me he is already thinking of making it a regular event, and is actively looking for the next brewery to invite!


A busy 5 weeks for pubs coming up, with all the usual pubs offering food for Mothers’ Day this Sunday, 15th of March. That’s followed rapidly by St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday 17th, and the final 2 weekends of the 6 nations rugby tournament (which has been really popular in pubs) this weekend and next. Easter falls at the very beginning of April this year, and Easter Monday [6th April] is always a popular time to visit local pubs – especially if the weather is fine. We’ll be hoping that a few sunny days around that weekend brings visitors into Otley from the surrounding towns and cities.

Otley Pub Club is continuing its work to protect the town’s pubs, and to plan more special events and entertainments to help in that regard, as well as raising its profile nationally and internationally. Our Chairman Andy FitzGerald and Yew Tree landlord Brett Booth did a live TV interview about ACVs and pub protection for RT (Russia Today) last week! When I can find out exactly where it is online, I’ll share the link next month. And there’s a possibility of a future TV appearance on a major domestic channel, which I hope to be able to tell you about in a month or two.

When I was going round collecting information for this month’s newsletter, it was also good to see that increased numbers of people were enjoying themselves in pubs throughout the day. The Bay Horse was packed with punters watching the racing for instance; The Roebuck’s car park and restaurant were both full; and just as another couple of examples, The Black Bull and The Otley Tavern both had a fair number of customers in mid-afternoon. [And I’d just like to say thanks to The Rose and Crown for the free roast potatoes on the bar – they were delicious!]


Now that all our nominations have been handed in, we can only sit back and wait. The ‘blanket’ nomination of all Otley’s pubs has not been universally popular, with some comments on the article in the Publican’s Morning Advertiser saying they felt it devalued the whole ACV process. Others thought that if the nominations failed, the pubs would be in a worse situation than before, because you can’t re-apply for an individual nomination for 5 years. Thankfully, others thought OPC were doing a wonderful job trying to protect all Otley’s pubs – and we had of course considered all the possible negative arguments before we went ahead.

The fact that pubs ARE valuable assets, and that communities feel very strongly about saving them, has been recognised by the Government. It now plans “to bring forward secondary legislation at the earliest opportunity so that in England the listing of a pub as an asset of community value will trigger a temporary removal of the national permitted development rights for the change of use or demolition of those pubs” (Current figures show that of the 1,800 ACVs currently in force, 31% are for pubs.) This makes it even more important that we seek to provide all our pubs with ACV status. If we fail, either for all Otley’s pubs or just for some, we will still obviously continue to fight for them all. There is still a local way of protecting pubs from being re-developed by the owner as a supermarket or other retail outlet [which doesn’t currently require planning permission]. If we find out that the owners are planning that type of redevelopment, we can apply for an ‘Article 4 Direction’ [A4D] from the Local Authority, which if granted requires the owner to go through the normal planning development change of use process. The use of A4Ds has already been successful in saving pubs elsewhere in the country, as this article shows.



Last month I copied a link that said 870,000 jobs in the UK depend on beer and on pubs. Well this month there’s another opportunity to take up some of those jobs in Otley!

  • The Royalty, up on the top of Otley Chevin is looking for full-time staff to join the ‘front-of-house/bar service’ team;
  • The Black Horse is seeking part-time staff; and
  • The North Bar Social has a full-time vacancy as well.

Working behind a bar is not a job for everyone, and it certainly isn’t an ‘easy option’! When you’re on duty, you’re the eyes and ears of the publican, as well as being their PR person – looking out for glass-pocketers, under-age drinkers and potential ‘bad apples’, while remaining cheerful and making the customers want to keep coming back! It can be hard work, but if you enjoy meeting all sorts of people and you can deal with the rare difficult situation from your punters, it can be rewarding and fun. [You might even get a few tips – even with the price of beer being what it is nowadays!]

So if you know anyone who fancies a full-time job without having to leave Otley, or who has some hours to spare every week and wants to earn some more cash, tell them to contact the individual pubs, who will be very pleased to hear from them.


[On t’wrong side o’ t’Pennines, like, but even so] it’s good to hear when so many pubs are closing, that new ones are still opening up –


Could this be the way forwards for pubcos who want to keep their landlords happy, while still making a profit themselves? Spirit Leased have come up with a new turnover-based rent deal, based on an element of fixed rent, plus a percentage share of turnover, with free-of-tie pricing, no rent reviews and no RPI increases! The Wellington pubco also runs a system of fixed rent for pubs, with annual RPI increases and an upward-only rent review every 5 years. Full details here.

Punch Taverns, meanwhile, is abandoning its target of food sales making up to 35% of their tenants’ revenue, and concentrating on a new ‘wet-led’ programme instead. Unfortunately, it is intending to call these pubs “Mighty Local”, as well as having a sports bar concept called “Champs” and a coffee offer called “Brewed and Baked”. And all this is in reaction to how the Market Rent Only option might affect their corporate business model.

Finally, Lord Hodgson’s attempt that I mentioned last month, to water down the MRO option, has failed. He suggested that if a pubco made a ‘significant investment’ in a pub, MRO could be deferred for a “mutually agreed period”. The Government response was that any investment would be likely to be taken into account in the assessment of a fair rent, and could therefore be recouped that way, rather than through increased drink prices.


Thanks to those of you who replied to my question about what we could do to welcome the TdY to Otley. I especially liked the idea of having a competition alongside the event, where people were asked to locate on a map of Yorkshire the French names of landmarks along the route – like ‘La Vache et le Veau’. We did discuss the ideas, but unfortunately the route of the Tour on May 3rd doesn’t actually run through the town – it goes along Birdcage Walk instead. We did try to get Leeds City Council to change the route – describing the additional benefit to Otley’s businesses [especially pubs] and residents who want to be able to see the race. They did review the route after receiving our request, and sent us an extremely detailed reply telling us why they were unable to accept it. So we reluctantly decided to save our energies on this occasion, and concentrate on the other projects in hand for this year – like The Ale Trail version 2 and the Otley Pub Passport.

Nevertheless, we might adapt the map/competition idea on another occasion, as well as another suggestion – to name all the pubs after famous Yorkshire people. Given enough planning time, each pub could then be ‘themed’ to suit their ‘patron’ for the day, say Geoffrey Boycott OBE (The Bowling Green?); Dame Judi Dench (The Royalty?); Alan Bennett, Nicola Adams (any Punch Tavern?); or David Hockney OM CH RA. [Maybe one pub could even be persuaded to be renamed The Jeremy Clarkson for the day? And would we have to fight off all the ones wanting to be The Lizzie Armitstead?] Yorkshire Day would seem to be the obvious time to go for something like this, and perhaps we could even invite all the celebrities to visit their ‘own’ pub? (Yeah, OK, I’m getting quite excited about this now – gonna have to go back to the committee and persuade them!!)



Volunteers in a pub in Cambridge have been wearing special specs that track which of an array of pump clips gets the most attention. The glasses can measure how many times the wearer looks at each pump clip, and how much time they spend looking at it when they stand at the bar. The hope is that brewers will be able to design clips which attract the attention of drinkers, leading to more sales. [But if all brewers use the evidence, how will that work? But then everyone knows ‘beer goggles’ are notoriously inaccurate and optimistic!] Personally, what I would like to see is beer pump clips having a readable name on the REAR of the clip, so that when I ask for a pint by name, the bar staff don’t have to start twisting the clips round to see which is which!



We’re thinking of sending the Mayor of London, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson [Bojo for short] an OPC membership form! His new planning policy for the Capital [the stunningly-named ‘London Plan’] encourages London Boroughs to develop policies to “protect” as well as “retain, manage and enhance” pubs, where there is sufficient evidence of need, community asset value, and viability in pub use. That could almost be taken word for word from our own constitution! The Otley Pub Club model starts its bid for national adoption!

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Getting the outdoor seats and flower baskets in their beer garden ready for the start of the sunny Spring weather we all hope is on the way.


So, a BBC TV producer was in here last Thursday, but we’re definitely not going to say why or what might come of it!


As well as the mums and toddlers group on Mondays, and all 6 Nations rugby still being shown, the BH is now the new base for Rotary Club meetings every other week.


“The world’s biggest real ale festival, 13 to 29 March – up to 50 UK/world ales that can be sampled in 3 x 1/3 pint glasses for the price of a pint. Mothers Day Sunday roast and a drink for £7:99 and a new menu from next week including Mexican Monday!


Disco karaoke every Sunday from 2, and coming soon the Cross Pipes Golf Society – monthly day trips to various courses. Locally and weekends away!


Keep checking out the new beers and food menu. Friday 20th don’t miss the Chris berry Band.


Watch out for open mic nights still taking place once or twice a month. Mothers Day – Sunday lunch beef or pork roast and all the trimmings only £8:95. Looking forward to more ‘meet the brewer’ events following the success of the Ilkley Brewery/OPC one last week.


John Strong appearing next week, but other details not yet settled – make sure you keep an eye on the pub to see what’s coming up.


If you want an authentic St Patrick’s day celebration on Tuesday the 17th, the Manor has Alexander – Irish country vocalist; The Raisers – Irish country band; plus Irish country dancers; all from 5pm til late.


Coffee and croissants for £3:50 from 11am every Sunday til they run out – and with locally-made bacon jam [yes, really!] if you want to try it. Early warning that he North Bar pubs are running a bus trip round all their 6 pubs, starting at The Cross Keys in Leeds at 6:15pm on the 8th of May. 1 Bus, 6 Venues, 6 Iconic North Bar beers, food, and plenty of surprises! They’ll be visiting all 6 ‘North bars’ and sampling the most iconic beers from their 18 years of trading. There’ll be the odd suprise and you’ll get to sample their latest venture – Beer from their very own Brewery – North Brewing Co!! Check out


Champion beers of Britain beer festival coming up at Easter. Not only 30 beers n 13 hand pumps over 5 days, but also a chance to try the new steak and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord ale pies!


Open mic night last week with a couple of players from the Otley ukulele orchestra was a huge success, and the next one is on Tuesday 24th of March. Baldy Mike Jones is performing this Saturday, 14th of March, and new Otley favourite Richie Schmarler on the 21st. Steve Chapman Smith is on Friday the 27th, and girl duo Waiting For Wednesday on Friday 10th of April. The Tap House are building up their craft ale offerings, and have a classy new menu on the tables describing what each one is like. They also now have Belgian Vedett on the bar [together with another classy glass to go with it]. Sup it while you’re watching the 6 Nations!


If it’s music, or sports TV or quality beer you want – or all three – then the Tavern is the place. Final two 6 Nations weekends coming up. Don’t miss them!


Pool League plays on Tuesday nights, and the table is free of charge on Thursdays. 6 Nations is proving popular, so arrive early to bag a seat! Open mic night on Wednesday 25th of March, and watch out for quiz night starting on Sundays soon, following the end of the football at 6-o-clock.


Mothers’ day‘s all booked up unfortunately, but look out for the Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday the 5th of April, and enjoy the sunshine [hopefully] on Easter Monday!


Still a few places left for Mothers Day lunch, but make sure you book in advance – there’ll be a small gift for every mother dining on the day! St Patrick’s night [Tuesday 17th of March] from 8:30 til late, Irish and folk song duo Alibi will be performing. Lunch will be served on Easter Sunday til late, and there’ll be a disco on Easter Sunday night – doors close 11:30, but open later.


Still looking for experienced ‘front of house’/bar staff full time. Mothers day food served between midday and 6pm this Sunday – booking essential.


Still tables available for lunch on Mothers Day – 2 main courses for £10, or even better – 2 x 2 course dinners for only £15! 11:30 to 15:30, and pre-booking is advisable. Quiz on Thursdays and live music every Saturday [except March 21st, when it’s disco/karaoke]. Joe Gallagher’s Noise are on Good Friday; check with pub for other bands after that.


Early St Patrick’s gig, with Glen Folk on Sunday the 15th of March at 15:30. Plus all the regular favourites – quiz on Tuesday; all cask ales @ £2:50 on Wednesday; Bar-Room Buskers on Thursday. [Not always as packed out as it was this week for Andrew’s 60th birthday!]


Pie night on Wednesdays from 5 til 8pm, and a sharing platter night on Thursdays, also 5 til 8. Wednesday is also poker night; there’s karaoke on the first Saturday night every month; and a quiz every Sunday night with a gallon of ale prize. [NB – they’ve asked me to point out that if you see any adverse comments about the pub on Trip Advisor or other sites, they’re probably about the period under the previous landlords. Do go up and see for yourself what the Yew Tree is like!

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That’s all for now – with the usual apologies for things I’ve missed or misrepresented, and thanks as usual to everyone for giving me their time and information.

And don’t forget – if you no longer want to receive these newsletters and any other correspondence from Otley Pub Club, just email the return address. All your details will then be removed from all my records – it will be as though you never existed (to us)! Likewise, if I get three newsletter non-delivery reports for the same reason of email failure each month, I will delete all your records as well. So if you suddenly stop hearing from me but you still want to be a member, something’s gone wrong! Just send me an email and I’ll put you back on the mailing list. Thanks!


Bob Brook

OPC Secretary

13 March 2015

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