person filling beer on glass
Photo by Amie Johnson on Unsplash

For communities across the country, change often happens to them rather than with them. Local buildings and assets close or get taken over, and communities who have a direct stake in these decisions rarely have a say.

For people across the UK, the local pub will be a prime example of this story. While it has certainly changed over the years, the pub is still right at the heart of community life. They are not just places to drink: they are places to socialise, to feel connected and to be part of a community.

But pubs are increasingly at risk just because they are seen as ripe development opportunities, either by property developers or multi-national corporations keen to see every high street and main road a carbon copy.

Communities have a direct stake in the development plans for their area, so it is only right that they have say. There is a way: through registering pubs, parks, post offices and a host of other facilities as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).

While this designation does not stop owners deciding to sell up, it does allow for the local community to step in. Bardsley, a tight knit community in Oldham, has lost several pubs over the years, with the other two remaining pubs not reopening after the pandemic. Recently, a resident called Steve got in touch to say that he and other members of the community had come together and made an application for The Daisyfield Inn to be listed as an ACV.

As an ACV, the Daisyfield Inn could not be sold without the owner first notifying the council: within 6 weeks of this notification, the community has six weeks to say whether they intend to make a bid. I was pleased to provide the application with a support letter, and absolutely delighted that the pub has been granted its status as an ACV, as its “current use furthers the social wellbeing and interests of the local community”.

If we fail to protect our local community pubs, then our communities will be much weaker for it. At the last budget, a £150m fund to help communities take over local pubs and other vital spaces at threat of closure was established – but we also need systemic legal and regulatory change to give communities the powers they need to further widen ownership.

More must be done to give power to communities to come together and fight to save their local pub. As isolation and loneliness only seems to get worse, it is vital we do not loose viable facilities.

Though we cannot stop every closure, I am keen to do all I can to help local communities list properties and ensure we retain these vital community facilities. I hope that this is just the start of many community-led campaigns, and the more people will take the first step to protect their loved local places from being sold-off.