Hub of our communities must be protected

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COMMENT: A business community that is simply the best

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At last, some sign that our beleaguered pubs are getting a bit of help from government.

Not from Whitehall, though, but somewhere much closer to home, namely Havant Borough Council.

It is refreshing to see that the authority has blocked a move to close down yet another pub, in this case The Crows Nest in Cowplain.

It’s a popular local inn, but like, it seems, so many more nowadays, it is owned by a company that is happy to sell it off for housing.

That’s where the council comes in. It has refused planning permission, saying that it’s not satisfied that sufficient effort has been made to sell the pub as a viable business rather than trade in the site for a new use.

It’s not the first time this has happened, but we feel that it should be a far more common response from town hall planners.

For as local councillor David Keast rightly says: ‘It is a valuable public amenity which was going to disappear from the area.’

Crows Nest regular Charlie Watt, who has led the campaign to keep the pub going, puts it like this: ‘It is the hub of the community and I don’t know what we’d do without it.’

That’s a description that can be applied to pubs in each of our communities, indeed across the land, yet far too often we are greeted by the sad sight of another pub closed, windows boarded and waiting for demolition.

We have said before, and we repeat today, that pubs are closing at an alarming rate across the country and the government urgently needs to take action to help protect them.

Like libraries and post offices, they are the focus of communities and we are by far the poorer for their closing.

We hope that other councils will follow the lead set by Havant and be far tougher in demanding that owners show they have done everything possible to keep a pub going before permission for change of use is granted.

For our part, we today launch our Love Your Local campaign in celebration of our pubs. We hope that in its own way it will help protect this time-honoured and essential feature of our way of life.