Since its inspired inception through His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in 2001, Pub is The Hub has continuously evolved as an independent not-for-profit body where many experienced professionals from licensed property work in partnership with others experienced in business, the local authorities and third sector colleagues.
Although much has been written about the decline of rural services and an almost equal amount on the demise of the village pub, it is envisaged this change may continue. What many urbanites, and local and central Government fail to realise is the fragile nature of the rural services support structure and its dependence often on local business initiatives and their support if services and communities are to survive.
As an experienced surveyor with a thirty-year business career in the pub and leisure sector, John Longden was all too aware of the effects of the decline in rural services. So when His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales enquired if existing businesses such as the local pub, with good licensees, could support their local community, John was well placed to try to make Pub is The Hub a reality.
As Chief Executive since 2001, John has continued to steer the initiative as the professional fundraiser, administrator, spokesperson, networker and above all, supporter of rural services, as the network of regional Hubs, volunteers and supporters will testify! As will Diageo, Dairy Crest, Post Office Ltd, The British Beer and Pub Association, Enterprise Inns, Punch Taverns, Marston’s, Greene King, Frederic Robinson, Stonegate,Theakston’s, S A Brain, Adnams and St Austell Brewery and many other trade associations such as CAMRA, Brewers’ Company and the BII, all of whom have provided individual support over the years.
But rural pubs need championing. “When a business fails in the high street it usually creates an opportunity for another business to thrive. In contrast the closure of a business in a rural community adversely impacts on the community and on the viability of several other small businesses, leading to a domino-like effect on the collapse of further local services and amenities. Often a rural pub remains the only socially significant business still running in many rural communities. Pub is The Hub is not directly about saving pubs but about supporting them and encouraging them to diversify and support other local services in this rapidly changing world.”
Recent research has also highlighted the wider intangible merits and impact that pubs providing services can play, benefits for the community, the environment and the local economy, such as the saving of travel cost, fuel and time and the support provided for local suppliers and local businesses.