‘Use it or lose it’ call over Aylesbury Vale pubs

The Seven Stars at Dinton is a community-owned pub
The Seven Stars at Dinton is a community-owned pub

People need to ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to Vale pubs, district leaders have warned.

Watering holes across the country have been hit hard by the recession and Aylesbury Vale has not been spared the pain, with the likes of Wendover’s Rose and Crown and Haddenham’s Red Lion closing.

As a result there have been calls for councils to do more to help protect pubs, but Aylesbury Vale District Council has said the businesses needed to make themselves viable.

A motion submitted to the authority called on it to ask the secretary of state to do more to protect pubs and give the council more power to prevent pubs being demolished or converted.

But an overwhelming majority of councillors rejected the motion, saying the ‘community right to bid’ scheme, which helps people buy struggling pubs, was a better way of protecting much-loved drinking holes.

Councillor Robin Stuchbury, Labour, who introduced the motion, said pubs closing meant a loss of income for a community and could lead to more drinking at home.

But Councillor Sue Polhill, deputy leader at AVDC, said: “There’s no doubt when a pub closes it does distress the local community.

“But it’s the old ‘use it or lose it’ rule.

“If they are loved then surely they would be so busy they would be making someone a good living and they wouldn’t close.

“It has to be viable to succeed.”

When the council’s planning team is deciding on applications to do with pubs, it looks at how likely it is to continue to trade and the potential benefits of an alternative use.

Councillor Pam Pearce, cabinet member for community matters, said the ‘right to bid’ scheme is the way forward.

The Seven Stars at Dinton is one example of a success with the scheme. The pub was set to be sold in 2011 when a campaign to save it was started. A total of 65 residents came forward and raised the £360,000 needed. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and this year won AVDC’s ‘Village Pub of the Year’ award.

Despite this, Alexander Wright, chairman of the Aylesbury Vale and Wycombe branch of CAMRA, said councils should be doing more.

Mr Wright said: “It would be absolutely fantastic if local councils were more proactive in saving not only their local pubs but also other community assets.

“They could help promote them. They could give pubs a but of ease on the business rates. They could possibly give them grants to help them promote themselves.

“While the local community should really use their local assets, they’re under tremendous pressure.”