PRESS RELEASE Date: 24th February 2015 Embargo: None
Otley Pub Club leads country’s first test case in bid to protect local pubs
The Yorkshire town of Otley is leading the UK’s first test case in seeking to get multiple pubs better protection at the same time. Applications have been submitted by Otley Pub Club to Leeds City Council to get all 20 pubs in Otley listed as Assets of Community Value.
This follows the concession forced from ministers when the Infrastructure Bill was debated in the House of Commons on 26th January. Long-time pub campaigners, MPs Charlotte Leslie (Conservative, Bristol North West), Grahame Morris (Labour, Easington) and Greg Mulholland( Liberal Democrat Leeds North West)all tabled a cross-party amendment, New Clause 16, that would have meant requiring planning permission before a pub could be demolished or converted into a supermarket or office space.
At the moment, permitted development rights on pubs mean supermarket groups like Tesco can convert much-valued local pubs into supermarkets without needing planning permission and hence not give the local community a say. This also means supermarkets are predatorily targeting profitable and popular pubs in order to open more stores.
Commenting, the chairman of Otley Pub Club, Andy FitzGerald said ” We are seeking to protect all Otley’s pubs with the status of Assets of Community Value because they are an integral part of our historic town and part of its wide appeal. As a voluntary community organisation Otley Pub Club has a successful track record of fighting to retain the town’s pubs and has succeeded in pressuring pub companies in reopening closed pubs and encouraging investment. If successful, this application will provide added protection.”
In the just two days the New Clause 16 amendment was live for other MPs to add their names, it quickly attracted the support of 38 MPs from all parties, including 29 coalition rebels. With this clear show of support, government brought forward a concession, saying that if the local community managed to get a pub listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), it would have permitted development rights automatically removed from it.
With government opposing New Clause 16, it was defeated with 245 votes for, and 283 against.
Local MP Greg Mulholland, who is Chair of the parliamentary Save the Pub group and president of Otley Pub Club, led a parliamentary debate on Thursday, 12th February, on improving protection for pubs through the planning system, in which he argued ministers had not been entirely accurate about the process of pubs getting ACV status. Leeds City Council (LCC), for example, face costs of £1,070 for each ACV application, and while ministers say assessing each application should take 8.3 hours, it takes LCC 16.6 hours.
Otley Pub Club is an organisation created by local pub supporters and local publicans. Free to join, it is a way for Otley people to support their local pubs and enjoy the wide selection of real ales and for publicans to communicate with each other and their customers. The club campaigns on behalf of pubs where needed and organises social events, runs a web site and publishes a popular monthly newsletter and the successful Ale Trail leaflet. For more information visit www.otleypubclub.co.uk
Photo caption: Otley Pub Club president Greg Mulholland (left) and chairman Andy FitzGerald outside Leeds Civic Centre with the multiple applications to have all of Otley’s listed and protected as assets of community value.
Andrew McKeon Media Officer, Otley Pub Club.Tel: 07802 484 155. andre
Andy FitzGerald. Chairman, Otley Pub Club: Tel: 07585 702804
Greg Mulholland, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
T: 0207 219 3833. firstname.lastname@example.org