Staffordshire pubs inspired to diversify

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A scheme to help rural pubs in Staffordshire to branch out into new local services was launched by Pub is The Hub today in partnership with Staffordshire County Council.

Pub is The Hub launched its Local Community Services Champions initiative to an audience of publicans, pub operators, community groups, parish councils and council service providers at Uttoxeter Racecourse.

Leader of the Council Philip Atkins OBE opened the meeting by talking about the challenges faced by such a large rural county and said that the pub forms part of the heart of each village along with the church, village hall and shop. He added: “This isn’t about propping up failing businesses, it is about supporting communities to improve services.”

After a video message of support from Burton and Uttoxeter MP, Andrew Griffiths, John Longden, the Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub then outlined the advice, support and, if appropriate, funding for pub operators and owners who are considering a diversification scheme. He explained that schemes of this type include providing post offices, shops, libraries, internet cafes, allotment schemes, school dinners, lunch clubs for the elderly, dementia clubs, IT training and meeting rooms.

The audience then heard about the personal experiences of two local publicans; Paul Cranstone from the Shoulder of Mutton in Osmaston near Ashbourne who runs a post office and Mark Gilliver from the Coach and Horses in Draycott near Derby who runs a community allotment.

John Longden talked about the next steps in the initiative and introduced the Pub is The Hub advisor for Staffordshire, Phil Dixon who lives in the county and has over thirty years’ experience in the pub sector. He then introduced Phil Pusey, the Chief Executive of Staffordshire Council for Voluntary Youth Services who wanted to offer good local knowledge and connections to other groups such as Support Staffordshire and Staffordshire LEADER who might be able to help pubs get projects off the ground.

Finally, in his closing address, John Henderson the Chief Executive of Staffordshire County Council said that he was really inspired by some of the ideas he had seen during the meeting and suggested that new community services and activities were; “only limited by our own imaginations.”

The launch of the scheme in Staffordshire is also being backed by the Big Lottery Fund who have had an association with Pub is The Hub since 2011.

John Longden, Chief Executive from Pub is The Hub said: “We want to talk to any licensees and pub owners who are considering the option of diversification – and even those who have never thought of it before. We welcome anyone who wants to know more and fancies having a chat with our local advisor, Phil Dixon.”

The photograph above shows Cllr Philip Atkins, John Henderson and John Longden at Uttoxeter Racecourse.