Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes announced yesterday a £1.3m package of support for local services in rural pubs in Wales through a joint co-operation initiative between Pub is The Hub and Cadwyn Clwyd (the Regional Development Agency for Denbighshire and Flintshire).
The co-operation project for Wales will be managed by Cadwyn Clywd on behalf of the Welsh Assembly and is funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which, in turn, is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Pub is The Hub will support the administration, funding applications and national advisory service provided for each pub project.
Initiated through Pub is The Hub with support provided by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, the project aims to engage with over 90 pubs, with financial support for around 60 that choose to diversify into new services for their communities across eight rural counties; Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, Ceredigion, Gwynedd, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Flintshire. The funding is available until the end of 2013 and Pub is The Hub and Cadwyn Clwyd will be working with the Local Action Groups (LAGs) in each area to draw down the capital project funding for schemes approved in their areas.
The deputy minister was speaking at a launch event at The Royal Oak in Betws y Coed in North Wales on 22nd March 2012 hosted by Pub is The Hub and Cadwyn Clwyd, attended by licensees, local authorities and pub companies. He said: “I know how successful the Pub is The Hub initiative has been in bringing many important social, economic and environmental benefits to rural communities.
“Pubs, like many small rural businesses can struggle to trade profitably through providing only the pub functions. The training, advice and guidance being offered to pubs and communities through this project will, I am sure, inspire actions to create new income streams to help sustain pubs for the future. These pubs in turn will benefit their local communities by providing essential basic services.”
John Longden, Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub commented: “Whilst the levels of funding for each pub will depend on the type of project and community need, this is the first time that government has worked on a national scale to support an initiative of this kind. We are immensely grateful to The Prince’s Countryside Fund which has allowed us to operate in Wales and to initiate the project on a national scale.”
He went on to say: “The closure of a business in a rural community adversely impacts on the viability of many other businesses leading to a domino-like effect on the collapse of further local services and amenities. Often a rural pub is now 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 local services in this rapidly changing world.”
Also speaking at the launch was Martin Boardman from the Salisbury Arms in Tremeirchion in Clwyd who has set up a community playground for the village; Colin Garner from the Golden Lion in Llangynhafal in Denbighshire who runs a monthly cinema club; and Steve Marquis from The Blue Bell in Halkyn in Flintshire who is in the process of re-opening the village post office in his pub. Steve Marquis also pointed out that once a village loses its last remaining service, which can often be the pub, it can lose its status as a village and even as a hamlet which then has implications for future planning applications in the area.
David Willis from the community-run pub called The Raven in Llanarmon, Denbighshire was also there to talk about how important it is to keep pubs and businesses open in rural areas. At The Raven they have also diversified to offer a peripatetic post office service each Thursday, OAP lunches, accommodation, films and even Welsh lessons every week.
Pub is The Hub will be running a series of workshops for pub owners and licensees over the next twelve months in each county and are asking that anyone interested in undertaking such a scheme should get in touch with Pub is The Hub by calling 01423 546165 or emailing email@example.com.