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08-02-2011, 20:36
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Having asked the questions I did in the last post, and having a couple of less-than-impressed comments passed to me among a few more supportive comments, I was not impressed to see Hereford CAMRA's public response on the forum:


We will be sending a detailed report of our findings in due course to Herefordshire Council Planning Department. This information will then be in the public domain for all to see. Regrettably, it is felt inappropriate to share this information with a wider audience at this juncture.

This report will contain detailed evidence, including fully attributable sources, to support our claim that the marketing of the property has been inadequate. However, in so doing, it is not our intention to pass judgement on the owner for his actions.

The matters raised will then be judged by the planning authority on their respective (planning) merits.

Those who disagree with our views are free to make their own submissions to the planners in Hereford.


There are two parts of this that got me even more angry with them:

'Regrettably, it is felt inappropriate to share this information with a wider audience at this juncture. '

This is the kind of response you expect from a big company trying to hide something, not from a group being questioned by its own members.

'However, in so doing, it is not our intention to pass judgement on the owner for his actions. '

No apology for it though. This just comes across as stuck-up - more marketing speak that suggests we are not worth bothering with.

I was going to post this a couple of days ago, but I had a surprise visit from the owner of the Rhydspence who wanted to give me some information he thought I'd find interesting. The most interesting things that came up in our chat over a coffee were:

He'd owned the pub for 25 years, and has been trying to sell it for the last 12. After the millennium he found trade dropped rapidly, and at one point he offered the freehold for a figure around half the current asking price in a private sale, and still nothing came from it. I was surprised to hear this, and he ensured me he still had the solicitors letters from the time. And the pub hasn't turned a profit in 10 years.

My impressions of the man? A gentlemen who bought a beautiful Inn (it is mainly food and accommodation it has to be said), had around 15 years of good trade and then, as trade started dropping off, he looked to sell up and move on. Now he's had enough, and would like to retire, using free time to do those things publicans don't get to do. He's tried for several years to sell it as a pub, and after no interest at all now he wants to sell as a private house, in the belief it is more likely to sell as such.

My views on the conversion? I'd rather a respectable publican was allowed to bow out gracefully after years of service to the industry, than have his name dragged in mud by a local, but large and very active branch of a campaign group. What I'd truly see is him have is application refused, be forced to sell at a dramatically reduced price, to see the next owner continue to have no trade and apply to change in a years time. That would truly be salt in the wound.

I haven't sat on my arse and just blogged about it though. I've been getting out where I can and chatting to people about the pub. Finding the feelings of the locals, most of which appear to be that he's had it a long time, times are hard and it hasn't got much going for it, so the owner should be allowed to do as he wishes. And this evening I wrote an email and sent it to all the email addresses I could find on the Hereford CAMRA website. I've pasted it below, but most of what I've said in it I've covered in this blog anyway.

And don't worry, I'll actually blog about Kilverts and The Hay Brewery (not to mention the 2nd Hay Ale & Literature Festival) shortly.


Dear All

I've taken a couple of days to compose myself, because I have not been impressed with the branch's public portrayal of the Rhydspence Inn recently.

Having taken the time to dissect the release on the main CAMRA forum and receiving no meaningful response but several messages of agreement, I hope that someone can answer some questions I have. After all, what does it say about a branch when they won't answer questions from one of their own members?

The questions I have are simple:

1) You state: 'The pub has been on the market for a number of years - at an asking price steadfastly in excess of £750 000 freehold. That is an astronomical amount of money, and it is unlikely that any licensed establishment in Herefordshire could justify this asking price.'

Having spoken to the owner, I can tell you the property has been on the market for 12 years, with prices ranging from £350k to just under 1 million. Nobody interested during that time at that range of prices says a lot. As for the prices of licensed establishments in Herefordshire, I know at least 1 that was sold for over £1m and another that wasn't far off.

Because of what I know to be fact, I asked who your sources were ('Our view that it is vastly overpriced is shared by others in the trade') and your response was unbelievable - that you were unwilling to say until it was too late to do anything. This is the kind of response I'd expect from a Pubco trying to hide something - not a consumer organisation answering questions from one of its members!

2) When did the branch last have a meeting or an official trip to the Inn? And how many members have scored it over the past few years? 'We cannot allow such an important pub, with such history and potential, to be killed off like this'. How much support did you give the pub whilst it was open - as it's such an 'important' one.

3) Is encouraging members who haven't visited a pub to write in to support your view completely acceptable? How can anyone say with authority what the pub is like unless they've visited?

4) Do you believe that CAMRA should pass judgement on a licensee for 25 years, who hasn't made any money from the business despite having a good local reputation for the past 10 years? At a time when pubs are closing in record numbers, allowing those with the least going for them to bow out gracefully would be a much better display of CAMRA ethics than to make spurious claims without backing them up, and insulting an experianced licensee whilst at it. Suggesting that the owner doesn't show any TLC, a warm welcome or encourage his locals to visit is extremely insulting to people in the trade at one of the most turbulant times for us.

I look forward to your honest responses, as do others that have made an effort to get in touch with me.

Ed Davies'
www.kilverts.co.uk (http://www.kilverts.co.uk/)
01497 821042


More... (http://studentbrewer.blogspot.com/2011/02/more-on-rhydspence.html)

10-02-2011, 11:49
Hi Everyone,
As someone connected to the Rhydspence it is refreshing to see some people thinking freely, unlike most Camra members who cannot see anything beyond the end of their glass.

Whilst the planning office states that public consultation ended on the 9th Febuary this just means that after this date you are not allowed to speak at a planning meeting. Letters of support or complaint can still be sent up and will be considered up until the decision is made.

If you fell the same way that I do and are outraged at how someone from Kent who doesn't even know the Rhydspence can write viscous complaint letters and make hurtful personal accusations at a family who has put 25 years into the business - then please go to the link below and write a quick letter of support.


If you have similiar friends who share your same views on the treatment the owner is recieving then please ask them for their support.

Thank you all for your time.

Best regards