Hands off our watering holes:
Southwark News' fight to save our pubs.
It's a well known and accepted fact that Bermondsey loves downing a drink or two. But, as two more of our historic public houses are threatened with closure, we may soon be forced to walk or stagger further afield for our daily tipple.
|'The Leather Exchange' on Leathermarket Street|
Thanks to the Southwark News 'Save our Pubs' campaign our pride of local pubs may soon be saved from closure by out-of-town developers whose sole aim is putting profit before heritage.
|'The Miller' on Snowsfields, SE1|
Backed by Simon Hughes MP, the campaign has already succeeded in having 'The Grange' public house listed this week as a community asset. The Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations came into force on 21 September 2012. They define community assets as 'land and buildings owned or managed by community organisations' covering 'a wide spectrum and including town halls, community centres, sports facilities, affordable housing and libraries'.
|'The Grange', Grange Road SE16|
But, with the St James Tavern up for sale on St James' Road, the battle is far from over. Selling a range of the finest beers, as well as seafood from its royal blue 'Butchie's of Bermondsey' van, this local treasure faces a fate worse than a stonking great hangover - its redevelopment as posh luxury apartments, similar to those at The Queen's Arms on Spa Road. Once frequented by dockers and the workers of 'the larder of London', the tavern may soon be unrecognisable to Bermondsey folk: occupied by the upwardly mobile, rather than generations of working-class revellers enjoying a good local night out.
|'The St James Tavern' on St James' Road, SE16|
There are of course two solutions to the modern-day problem of the declining pub industry - the 'Save our Pubs' campaign is only one of them. As with any successful business, loyal and committed customers are the key solution to keeping Bermondsey pubs alive and beating at the heart of our community. As well as listing and protecting the pubs, we must patronise them in our droves - now, not next week.
|'The Kings Arms' on Newcomen Street, SE1|
Just off Borough High Street, The Kings Arms boasts an impressive royal coat of arms that was originally displayed on the old London Bridge before it was sold off to the Americans. It is gems such as this that form a key part of our shared history and the Bermondsey local identity. The closure of these community assets threatens to put in jeopardy over a hundred years of history.
|'The Rose' on Snowsfields, SE1|
After the merger of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Community Councils, against the wishes of many local residents, Bermondsey lost its collective voice. A Bermondsey Society or parish council would provide a key grass roots voice that could fight to protect our history and identity. Although Southwark Council rejected out of hand the idea without even consulting Bermondsey voters, representative and inclusive bodies such as these need not divide local politicians on party lines. What is best for Labour and the Lib Dems is not always best for Bermondsey.
So, we must follow the fine example set by The Walworth Society in SE17 and apply to list all of Bermondsey's pubs as community assets, giving local people the opportunity to buy pubs that are up for sale, and six months to raise the necessary funds. All that is needed are twenty-five signatures from local people on the electoral roll, beer-thirsty Bermondsey boozers streaming through the front door and perhaps a Bermondsey Society or parish council - power to the people!
|Anood Al-Samerai (Southwark Lib Dem Leader) and Peter John (Southwark Labour Leader)|
|Simon Hughes MP behind the bar backing the campaign|