CAMRA’s Revitalisation Project is coming to a head. Members are going to be invited to vote on the proposals for the organisation’s future and meetings are being held in March. This article will appear in the next edition of the Oxford Drinker to encourage everyone to vote.
CAMRA’s future – and why you must vote
Dave Richardson (editor) digs the essentials out of the debate on our future direction
CAMRA membership shouldn’t be a chore, but I have to admit that we are asked to do quite a lot of “homework” before casting our votes by a deadline of midnight on Wednesday, 18 April (or at the AGM/EGM on 21 April if you’re going).
There’s no real alternative to reading the booklet CAMRA’S future?, CAMRA’s purpose?, Have Your Say!, as distributed with What’s Brewing? and also available online. But in the knowledge that some members probably won’t read it, here’s my attempt at what it boils down to.
The key proposal is that CAMRA should embrace a wider range of beer styles and recognise them as within a broader definition of “real ale”, and that includes so-called “craft ales” that might be keg or in cans or bottles. Also, CAMRA wants to represent all pub goers and not just drinkers of cask ale and traditionally made cider and perry.
On page 8 of the booklet, you’ll find this: “Boundaries have been blurred and there now exist some keg and other non-cask beers that are high-quality products – brewed with first-class ingredients, matured over a long period, unfiltered and unpasteurised.¬ The highest quality keg beers of today contain live yeast, are subject to secondary fermentation and are, to all intents and purposes, real ale up to the point when CO2 pressure is applied in the cellar.¬
“The consultation revealed that many members find some of these products superior to lower-quality, mass-produced cask beer common in pubs – and members questioned why CAMRA champions the latter over the former based simply on dispense method and with no regard to the quality of ingredients, production or taste.
“CAMRA’s failure to acknowledge these developments risks failing beer consumers, but also at best ignores, at worst alienates, one of the most obvious, accessible and youthful potential audiences for real ale. ¬ With 80% of brewers and almost 70% of licensees saying they sold a greater proportion of ‘craft’ keg beer than five years ago, the majority of members (including active members) polled said it was time for CAMRA to expand the scope of beers it recognises.”
CAMRA has stressed that after a three-year consultation period and input from thousands of members, traditional cask ale (and cider and perry) will remain at the heart of our campaign. But the National Executive now proposes widening our remit, and that’s what the EGM voting is all about.
The aspiration to represent all pub goers is perhaps easier to explain, bearing in mind that the campaigning focus has increasingly moved on to protecting pubs. The closure rate is still alarming with around 15% of all pubs closing in the last decade.
How do I vote?
Online: all members who have registered an email address were sent an email on 6 March from “Online Voting”, with security access codes and a link.
By post: Details were included on the address sheet of What’s Brewing?, or contact CAMRA HQ.
In person: Only if you’re going to the AGM/EGM and conference, at the University of Warwick, Coventry on 20-22 April (the AGM/EGM is from 9.30am on 21 April). You can also appoint the chairman as your proxy beforehand.
A 75% majority in favour (of those who actually vote) is required to pass the key proposals. The result will be announced after the AGM/EGM and the whole process is supervised by the Electoral Reform Society.
Useful websites Members will have to copy and paste these because they all require a member login.
www.discourse.camra.org.uk is the CAMRA members’ forum and has a number of discussions about all aspects of the Special Resolutions and also questions to, and answers from, the candidates for the National Executive which members are also being asked to vote on.
CAMRA has also produced a Strategic Plan for 2018 to 2022 based on the proposals from the Revitalisation Project which you might find helpful. CAMRA Strategic-Plan-2018-2022-v6
Ministers must ensure success of the Pubs Code
CAMRA issued this press release on 21 July 2017.
Ministers must act to deliver a change of approach from the Pubs Code Adjudicator following 12 months of confusion and delay, the Campaign for Real Ale demands today, exactly one year on from the introduction of the Pubs Code.
While the Pubs Code was introduced in order to end unfair practices in the sector, progress so far has been disappointing – and requests for key information have been rejected by the Pubs Code Adjudicator.
CAMRA has published a three point plan calling on the Pubs Code Adjudicator to:
• Provide guidance on aspects of the Pubs Code that are currently unclear, such as Market Rent Only lease terms, stocking requirements and dilapidations,
• Publish a breakdown of arbitration cases by pub company and issue,
• Publish general principles being identified in cases which will help with interpretation of the Pubs Code.
In addition, CAMRA is calling on pub-owning companies and tenants to abide by the spirit of the Code and avoid unnecessary delays in the resolution of disputes. It is recognised that both the legislation and the procedures that have been put in place are not perfect, but the organisation believes that the arbitration process could be made better if there was greater cooperation by all parties.
Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s National Chairman says:
“A healthy pub sector that delivers for consumers is dependent on ensuring that pub tenants are able to secure a fair deal from their landlords. Too many great pubs have been lost because of sky-high rents and inflated wholesale beer prices. The Government demonstrated its understanding of the problem by bringing in the Pubs Code. Now it must act to ensure its will is carried through – before we see another year go by with many more pubs lost to their communities forever.
“We welcomed the introduction of the Pubs Code and have always wanted to give Paul Newby a chance to succeed in his role as Adjudicator. The chaotic circumstances surrounding the introduction of the Pubs Code a year ago meant that the Code’s introduction was always going to be challenging, but we are disappointed that more progress has not been made. The need for an effective Pubs Code has been clearly demonstrated in the first year with over 150 pub tenants bringing forward arbitration cases, but it is evident that the arbitration process is taking too long and costing too much.
“If the office charged with upholding the new law isn’t able to deliver clarity, speed of action and affordable dispute resolution then the Pubs Code is meaningless. It is vital that Ministers take action now to ensure that the Pubs Code Adjudicator provides detailed guidance, acts transparently and publishes details of the principles being identified in individual cases.”
Data obtained by CAMRA via the Freedom of Information Act shows that in the first 10 months of the Pubs Code’s existence, more than 500 enquires were made to the Adjudicator, with more than 150 arbitration cases registered. But CAMRA’s request for other crucial information, such as the number of arbitration cases per Pub Company and a breakdown of cases by issue, has been refused. An appeal against that ruling is being submitted to Paul Newby.
Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s National Chairman continues:
“The Pubs Code Adjudicator is undermining the successful operation of the Pubs Code by keeping secret the number of arbitration cases per pub company. It is vital that this information is made public so that public pressure can be brought to bear on the most complained-about pub companies to better comply with the Code. It is stretching credibility that information that was published through the old self-regulatory regime is now being withheld from the public. The Adjudicator’s refusal to release this data gives the impression that he is more concerned with the interests of pub companies than he is with the interests of tenants and the communities that their pubs serve.”
Toby Perkins MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pubs Group says:
“The All Party Pub Group has met with representatives of the pub owning companies and the tenants to explore their experiences with regard to the Pub Code. We share CAMRA’s concerns that the spirit of the legislation may not be being followed and that the Code is proving less effective than it ought and will be inviting Mr Newby to our next meeting to discuss these concerns.
“Following the meeting, I am today on behalf of the Group issuing a call for evidence about any issues that people or organisations in the industry are experiencing with the code and invite them to email me at *protected email* with their experiences so we might be fully informed about the best way to ensure the code delivers the objectives expected of it.”
Better protection for pubs.
In a big success for CAMRA campaigning the Government announced on 23 March 2017 that there will be a change to the planning loophole in England which allows pubs to be demolished or converted to a wide range of retail uses without a planning application. It won’t prevent the development of pubs, but will require developers to apply for planning permission to convert or demolish a pub, allowing members of the local community to express their opinions as part of that process.Share this page via social media: