Once a town known for its abundance of public houses serving all ranges of customer, Whitchurch is fast losing that attraction as yet another excellent local pub closes.
The Harvest Home is the latest to become a victim of the policies of pub companies more interested in profits than in a local business and the local community.
The success of the pub had been hampered under the pressures from Admiral Taverns, a pub company often viewed as more focussed on property values than the pub business. Under the friendly licensees Mark and Pauline the pub was home to many pub game teams from pool to darts and it was a popular venue for charity quiz nights, providing fun, enjoyment and of course a source of funding for local good causes.
Hopefully another tenant may come forward soon, but with the present laws allowing Pub Companies to impose excessive rent rises and trading reviews when business increases and adding over-bearing conditions on their tenants, it will be hard work. Increasing custom is all too often penalised.
Wessex Regional Director of the Campaign for Real Ale John Buckley, who lives in Whitchurch, said “Pubs provide the vibrant heart of our communities. The loss of such pubs can be devastating to community spirit and CAMRA hopes that the Prime Minister’s recent endorsement of pubs as local assets will not just be empty words”.
CAMRA is being supported by other groups in leading the way in taking the case through as many channels at government level as possible in order to reduce the pressures that are unfairly exerted on hard-working licensees. “Whitchurch has already lost two pubs this year; choice is being diminished and ultimately the customer suffers” he added. “The fact that owners can also demolish or change to certain alternative uses without planning permission regardless of the pub’s local support, must be halted”.
Those who knew Mark and Pauline wish them all the very best; they were very hospitable, hard-working and superb friendly hosts who have served Whitchurch extremely well. They will be sorely missed.
However, unless the law is changed then many more pubs will close and many more licensees will find themselves in the unenviable situation of having to close the doors.