I have previously blogged regarding the value of pubs to life in our villages and the effects of changes in lifestyle and drinking habits, alcohol pricing, the economic downturn and the ‘Tescofication’ of the high street has had on our pubs. This is why I’m particularly pleased that the East Riding of Yorkshire Council is forming a partnership with the Pub in the Hub initiative with the aim of supporting the development and sustainability of rural public houses in the East Riding.
The Pub is the Hub is a not for profit advisory organisation that was initiated by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales as president of Business in the Community, and it is affiliated to his rural action programme. The Pub is the Hub is sponsored by the brewing industry and can call upon a wide range of expertise to support its work.
The aim of the Pub is the Hub is to encourage local authorities, communities, licensees, pub owners and breweries to work together to support, retain and locate services within rural public houses. The service offered by the Pub is the Hub can include advice on existing businesses and how to diversify in order to offer other services from the public house.
Diversification examples across the country include:
* Shops or post offices operating within the public houses
* Adult education classes
* Health initiatives such as health clinics
* Crime prevention initiatives
* Libraries * Advice services
* Allotments in pub gardens
Though not part of its core activity, the Pub is the Hub is also able to advise on community buy outs of local public houses though schemes such as community share ownership.
The Council held an initial meeting with representatives from the Pub is the Hub at which it was recognised that many of the rural public houses in the East Riding are facing difficult times. The meeting agreed that promoting the Pub is the Hub would be of benefit to these rural businesses and that as a first step data should be collated to identify key licensees and communities to be invited to take part.
The Pub is the Hub has agreed to commission the collection of data from industry sources which will identify potential businesses requiring support through knowledge of sales, rents and other costs.
The Council’s Rural Policy and Partnership Team are in the process of collecting and collating data from the Data Observatory and Community Led Parish Plans which will identify community needs and possible services that could be developed added at a particular location.
As Councillors we have been asked to provide any additional information by drawing on our specialised knowledge of the area and the businesses within it. (Fortunately I do know many of the pubs in Howdenshire!)
As soon as the data has been collated a further meeting will be held with the Pub is the Hub and the information will be used to plan a Pub is the Hub launch event which will be held in late June/early July. This event will be targeted at key rural public houses and their communities. It is then planned that a series of workshops be developed for licensees and communities wishing to work together.
I welcome this partnership being developed between the Council and the Pub is the Hub initiative will provide much needed additional support to the rural public house businesses in the East Riding.
Needless to say I will be visiting a number of Howdenshire’s pubs over the coming weeks to get a feel for the issues they face – something that readily fits with my commitment to riding parish paths, trails and cycle-ways on my mountain bike! (Pictured with Eddie Payne landlord of the Hope and Anchor in Blacktoft)