Will a simple listing be enough to protect pubs?

YEP beer writer Simon Jenkins.
YEP beer writer Simon Jenkins.
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The Yorkshire Evening Post’s long-serving beer writer Simon Jenkins says Leeds’s pubs are “the very definition of an asset of community value” particularly those suburban pubs which stand right at the heart of their local community.

But he also believes the protections offered by a community asset listing are meaningless unless the decision-makers are fully committed to the principle of protecting our pubs.

“Simply designating them as such can only have any true meaning if it feeds into other decisions by the council, especially the planners, who have allowed too many of these assets to be reused as shops or houses – or simply demolished,” he said. “And when a fabulous community pub like the Chemic in Woodhouse has its very existence threatened by a 30 per cent increase in its council rates bill, you have to wonder how committed the authority really is to protecting its pubs.”

Neil Walshaw, a councillor in Headingley, another of the city’s pub-rich areas, believes some pubs are “unsaveable because the demographic has changed”. However he agrees that “we have got to protect” those pubs which have particular value for communities for whatever reason.

“Listing pubs as a community value is a really good thing. If you can get pubs run as a community enterprise, then even better. We just have to be smart about which ones we choose.”