It is another black day for the pub trade in Whitchurch as steel shutters go up at the Harvest Home.
The Harvest which closed last August had up to recently been offered as ‘For Let’ on Admiral Tavern’s listings but last night workmen moved in and secured the windows and doors. It is the same pattern of events that befell the Railway.
Under the last tenants Mark and Pauline, the pub was a superb local amenity but they pulled their last pints last August, having run the pub with a true community spirit.
The hope that someone may revive this pub has yet to materialise and without use the building is likely to deteriorate.
Local resident and Wessex Campaign for Real Ale Regional Director John Buckley said “Regretably this is little to do with selling pints over the bar. It is how many non-brewery owning Pub Companies operate. They are interested in the building for its development potential, usually for housing. They often penalise licenses who are successful while it is the community which suffers.”
CAMRA is presently working with Government departments to have the planning laws changes to give licensees and local communities more protection.
Earlier today, Greg Mulholland MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, of which CAMRA is Secretariat, has urged the Government to protect pubs by including a 6 month moratorium from the date an owner seeks change of use or demolition, to allow for communities, the sitting tenant and other potential operators to buy and save the threatened pub.
He also added “Before any community pub is closed, there should be an independent viability test and a period of community consultation, then we will know that any pubs that are being closed are not any longer viable or wanted, which is certainly not the case now.”
Whitchurch has a very strong tradition of pubs that bring employment, wealth and of course social enjoyment to many. The loss of these in the town will have far reaching repercussions on the vibrancy of the community.