Stop the call of time on our pubs

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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There was a time when the ‘Crown to town’ was more than just a phrase, it was a true test of stamina and endurance, even for the heartiest of drinkers in Peterborough.

The Crown pub, at the top end of Lincoln Road, was the starting point of many a stag and hen ‘do’; each beginning with high spirits and good intentions, each losing a few members before they had even reached the Norfolk Inn.

Some people would invite ridicule by having a ‘half’ or even a lemonade in the odd establishment, thereby ensuring their appearance at the Wortley Arms and then onward to the Wayward Frog, Rumpoles or the Lion.

Most of us have stories to tell of nights like these, some of us can barely remember them, or how we ended up semi-naked and gaffa taped to a lamp post on Westgate – sorry Chris.

Unfortunately, all the above establishments, bar the Crown, are no more, victims of the smoking ban, cheap supermarket alcohol, unscrupulous landlords or perhaps just changing attitudes and lifestyles; the ‘Crown to town’ would now be a pint, a packet of pork scratchings and a taxi to the Brewery Tap.

There are so many other iconic names that I could add to the list of lost Peterborough pubs; The Peter Pan and the Scarlet in Dogsthorpe, The Coach and Horses in Fletton and The Crown in Glinton, to name but four.

All pubs that were focal points of their community, all providing vital facilities that are now lost forever. It’s not just Peterborough either, 23 pubs a week are closing nationally – at one time there was a pub in Whittlesey for every week of the year, now they don’t have one for every day of the week.

Many of the pubs which have called time in recent years have failed to diversify and respond quickly enough to the needs of their local community, whilst others that were run well and making a profit, were simply knocked down and replaced by houses and flats, for an even bigger profit.

One pub that finds itself in that position is The Ploughman in Werrington, with manager, Andy Simmons, fighting owners Tesco, in a bid to stop a developer knocking it down and turning the whole site into flats.

The pub has the unique distinction of twice being voted CAMRA’s Peterborough Pub of the Year – its beer is legendary and so too are its beer festivals.

It is a pub that is truly the heart and soul of the community with various groups depending on it’s facilities on a regular basis, and Mr Simmonds has even won a civic award for his charity fundraising – It would be a big blow for Werrington if it was lost.

However, Andy has struggled continuously for a decade to keep the pub open and he is not about to stop now, vowing to fight till his last breath to save it, even if it means going to court. His battle is truly a David versus Goliath fight, but he shouldn’t have to fight alone.

There should be rules and safeguards in place that do not allow the sale of profitable community assets, such as the Ploughman.

Profits should not be put before community.