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CAMRA speaks out as petition to save Briton’s Protection nears 8,000 signatures

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 5th April 2022

A spokesperson for CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) has spoken out in defence of the Briton’s Protection pub as a petition launched to try and save it nears 8,000 signatures.

CAMRA Pub Protection Officer Steve Ingham has reinforced growing concerns that the Briton’s expansive real ale and whiskey offering would be significantly diminished if Allan Hudd and Mark West’s lease is not renewed by Heineken-owned subsidiary Star Pubs & Bars in June.

Addressing fears that the pub’s impressive rotation of locally-brewed cask ales could soon disappear forever, he suggested that Star Pubs appear to ‘mistrust the current team’, whilst pointing out how liked and respected they are by their punters.

He told The Manc: “Realistically the adoption of the company’s Just Add Talent model as they term it, is their description of the intention to replace the existing team at the helm who are liked and respected by those who visit.

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“Building on the ‘current model’ contradicts the beliefs of the current team of the motives of Star who would be unlikely to offer the great range of whiskey and bourbon.

“The lease could of course be renewed in favour of the current tenants who have and could be relied upon to continue to provide the choice of spirits and real ale.

“It’s reasonable to conclude from the comment ‘ensure its long-term sustainability that the company mistrust the current team to continue to operate in the manner the company prefers.”

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Mr Ingham also pointed out that the pub’s currently market rent only (MRO) lease ‘provides the flexibility to the team to make choices rather than have choices presented to them.’

Adding that a change to the Just Add Talent model will ‘reflect a materially different choice, not that currently available which can react to customer suggestions,’ he said that, frustratingly, even well intentioned national company approaches ‘don’t always align with regional and even more importantly local needs.’

Tenants Allan Hudd and Mark West are currently battling to retain control of the historic boozer after being served a Section 25 eviction notice.

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Read more: Historic Manchester pub The Briton’s Protection under serious threat

Fearing that everything they’ve worked to build here over the past ten years will be lost, the current team have set up a petition online which at the time of writing has received 7,645 signatures.

The petition states: “The pub is a must visit site for their specialist whisky collection, boasting over 300 bottles; including their own unique offering of specially selected single barrel Jack Daniels  as well 8 rotating locally sourced cask ales on draught .

“The landlord Allan Hudd and Owner Mark West have put 10 years of passion into maintaining what this Great British pub is all about and if lost it will fall into the abyss of generic gastro pub white washing that has befell so many others, seeing the offerings whittle down to minimal portfolio that would no longer be able to support the local breweries or offer such a vast selection of whisky as is common place just now.”

The pair were only informed their lease will not be renewed this June after paying all outstanding rent and the next quarter upfront – a sum of  £170,000.

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They had previously been told there would be no issues moving forward with a new contract if these payments were made, only to be issued with an eviction notice a week later.

One comment on the petition reads: “This is a gem of a pub and needs to stay as is rather than become like a 100 other chain pubs”

Another says, “We have lost enough of our heritage to these consumer giants. I still remember Tommy Ducks from my youth. Our youngsters need the opportunity to experience a variety of drinks from all over the country rather than the limited selection provided by the large conglomerates.”

A third added, “The issue of hostile Section 25 notices is a massive problem now, as the major pub companies try to avoid tenants getting their new legal rights under the Pubs Code.
They are ruining hundreds of wonderful, unique pubs, evicting good long-term tenants to replace them with unsuspecting newcomers who then struggle to make the pubs work under toxic, profiteering, fake management deals. It’s a scandal.”

A fourth commented, “Unbelievable that these big businesses can’t see the unique potential of places like this – it’s not like it’s short on customers. They’re wiping the cultural slate clean :(“

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Read more: The Briton’s Protection launch petition to save pub

If you would like to show your support for the pub, you can sign the petition to save it here.

Feature image – The Manc Group