A high-profile Doncaster pubs campaigner today warned people to use their pub or lose it in the face of a wave of closures.
Gordon Sharpe, Pubs Protection Officer for the Doncaster CAMRA, said his group was concerned for the future of the Coach and Horses, Barnburgh, after its current lease had come to its end.
It comes at a time when Doncaster has seen waves of pub closures including Walkabout in the town centre, and the Horse and Jockey, on West Street.
CAMRA is fighting to try to keep pubs open in the borough and has made the Coach and Horses the latest to be protected by being designated as an asset of community value. The company holding its lease says it will not close.
Mr Sharpe said CAMRA became concerned after hearing fears the pub’s lease would not be renewed when it ends in December. The pub has had a succession of short term managers recently.
He said: “I paid a visit to the pub only last week and found a new manager in charge, but hardly anyone in.
“The real ale was down to one pump. Most rooms were closed as he said he couldn’t keep an eye on them all single handed.”
The Grade Two listed buildinG is on the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors as it has remained largely unchanged for 80 years. It was built in 1937 and has retained much of its 1930s style interior since then. Mr Sharpe added that the future of the pub looks uncertain, unless the community join the CAMRA campaign to keep it open.
“It is quite likely that the pub would close if the lease is not renewed. What people fail to see is that waiting to see what happens when the lease is up is too late, the way to keep a pub viable is to use it or lose it.”
In a bid to save the Coach and Horses, CAMRA has secured special protected status from Doncaster Council.
Asset of Community Value status – ACV – means the pub’s owner must offer the community the chance to buy the site so it can continue to be used as pub before it can be redeveloped for another purpose.
CAMRA’s Gordon Sharpe admits this does not guarantee the Coach and Horses, or any pub, is safe from closure.
He said: “A pub is still very much under threat despite the ACV. All it does is stop things from happening too quickly so the community can look at the situation and perhaps get another pub company to take it on.
“If no interest is shown then the council would have to let the owner do what they see fit. If the community are serious about a buy-out they have six months to come up with a viable proposition.
“The community would need to find out what it would cost for them to take on the lease, employ their own staff, buy the beer and run the pub.
“It is a big ask to expect the community to buy a pub, but at least this campaign provides a safety barrier to prevent the pub owner from converting it to a mini supermarket or bookmakers without any consultation.”
Andrew Crawford, operations director for Pub People Company, who provide the lease for the pub, said: “Our 20 year lease will an end in December 2016, but it’s going to be re-let to another tenant by Wellington Pub Company, who own the building. The pub will not close.
“We are carrying out some redecoration work on the pub so it is possible that one of the rooms wasn’t open. We are also trading at the same levels that we were two years ago.”