Anchor as a Community Pub?

The Anchor has been recognised as a Community Pub by CAMRA:

There is no news or any signs of activity from Sam Smith’s and the CAMRA Community Pub status makes no material change at the moment. However, CAMRA have a guide for possible Community Pub campaigns which gives us some additional options to think about. (We noted earlier that it didn’t seem appropriate to pursue this line yet, but the longer the brewery ignore our expression of interest and offer to help, the sooner we will need to consider other possibilities.)

If you might be interested in managing this Sam Smith’s pub, apply directly here, or contact Ali Whittle in The Lobster in Redcar (his phone number is on the ad in the Anchor window).

Any other suggestions, offers to help or expressions of interest, please use the contact form.

(To minimise spam, we’re handling subscriptions manually. Email-subscribers standby for an update on next steps being considered.)

Lunchtime in the Anchor?

Few posts recently, since there has been little activity to report. Today is the anniversary of the closure last year and, if anything, the odds of Sam Smith’s re-opening the Anchor are getting longer. Not just the new focus on pubs with food, but now a new “No Dogs” at all (!) rule, and more existing pub management leaving rather than new recruitment. (No dogs would affect the Anchor as a stop for hikers on their way up or down Belmangate?)

I had the good luck to get to see inside The Anchor on Thursday lunchtime as area management had the doors open to clean-out the junk mail and inspect the state of the place as I walked past. Musty dampness, some warping of panels affecting door openings, cobwebs and that smell from the drains, but actual cleaning probably only a half-day job. The back garden however is looking pretty sorry for itself – at least a week’s work there. (Didn’t get to see the flat upstairs.)

One idea is that if (and only IF) Sam Smiths show any  interest in our concerns as Friends of the Anchor, we could maybe offer to help get the garden back under control?

Failing any signs of interest from them, customers, who haven’t already given-up and found pastures new, are really waiting for the brewery to blink and put the place up for sale (with no change in use under planning law). In that case there appear to be several people waiting in the wings to snap it up, and anyone taking it on can expect the support of Friends of the Anchor. (But don’t hold your breath, there are Sam Smiths pubs that remain closed since decades before Covid!)

Any thoughts, don’t hesitate to use the contact form.
(Or comment below or on Facebook.)

And, as ever, if you fancy taking on The Anchor as a management couple under Sam Smith’s you can apply for the job.

Rumour’s Premature

Mentioned before the problem with rumours when the brewery is so unforthcoming with any information.

We have it on good authority that the management couple position has not been filled and there are no outstanding interviews or offers as of today. Anyone expressing interest is being advised to put in an application, and there are a few people in that limbo position, of having expressed interest but not actually applied. Maybe someone has been overheard considering this?

The Anchor as a “Community Asset”?

There is no history of Sam Smiths disposing of unused pubs, quite the opposite in fact, a history of investing in maintaining their properties to heritage standards even if some remain closed for long periods. (As we noted in our original letter to the brewery, the property is at least as significant as the trading, if not more so.)

Given this history it is very unlikely it should come to this, but we did some research a couple of months ago about protections for changes of use of a “community pub” like The Anchor. There are several pieces of planning legislation that prevent this (you may recall this famous case). In difficult times when traditional pub operations may be unprofitable quite a number of non-Sam-Smith pubs have been “rescued” by successful community pub campaigns.

Not only is there protection, there is in fact financial assistance to maintain pubs which may be considered a community asset. Pasted below is a recent message from CAMRA Campaigns Manager, Paul Edgeworth :-

QUOTE

The Community Ownership Fund was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Budget earlier [in 2021], and was launched by the UK Government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 15th July.

What is the Community Ownership Fund?

The Community Ownership Fund is a £150 million fund for communities to help them take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of closure.

Communities applying to the fund should have a strong vision for the long-term future of the asset, its purpose and potential in community life, and a plan for how the asset can thrive under community ownership.

Who is eligible?

It is open to voluntary and community organisations with match funding in all four nations of the United Kingdom.

Funding can be used to support the purchase and/or renovation costs of community assets and amenities. This can include pubs and social clubs, but this is not a fund dedicated solely to community pubs.

Proposals will need to prove the value of the asset to local people and that the asset can run sustainably for the long-term benefit of the community.

To be eligible for investment from the Fund, the terms of community ownership must be either the ownership of the freehold or a long-term leasehold of at least 25 years minimum (with no break clauses).

All applicants must demonstrate the potential of their projects to deliver against all of the following outcomes:

• protect a community asset or amenity that is at risk and preserve its community value
• develop a sustainable operating model to secure the long-term future of the community asset in community ownership
• safeguard the use of community assets and associated local amenities

All applicants must also show how their project will help deliver one or more of the following outcomes for their place:

• increase feelings of pride and improve perceptions of the local area as a place to live
• improve social trust, cohesion and sense of belonging
• increase local participation in community life, arts and culture and/or sport
• create additional local economic outcomes – including creating jobs, volunteering opportunities and improving employability and skills levels in the local community
• create additional social and wellbeing outcomes – including delivering positive impact in physical and/or mental health and reducing loneliness and social isolation

How does it work?

The fund will run for 4 years, with at least 8 rounds of bidding.
The first bidding round opened on 15th July 2021 for those looking to complete their projects within 6 months. The deadline for submitting application is 13th August 2021.

Round 2 will open in December 2021; and Round 3 in May 2022.

Further information:

Prospectus:

This prospectus sets out information on the:

• funding available
• how to apply
• eligibility
• assessment criteria

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-ownership-fund-prospectus

Assessment guidance criteria:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-ownership-fund-assessment-criteria-guidance

Application form:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-ownership-fund-application-form

Next steps:

The Campaigns Team will be working with partner organisations in the community pubs sector to look at the details of this new fund in more depth in the coming days and weeks, as well as how we can work together to provide guidance and support for community groups looking to make use of the Community Ownership Fund. We will keep branches updated.

UNQUOTE

As we say, it shouldn’t come to this with Sam Smiths, but if you’re interested to know more, why not join CAMRA?

Another Month Goes By

Another month and the ad is still in the pub window.
Some candidates have been interviewed and shown the state of the interior and garden, all starting to look a bit sorry for itself and no sign of any takers. Apart from monitoring the situation, no further action is planned by Friends of the Anchor until after the July 19th change of Covid trading arrangements.

(On a separate topic, this cheap and cheerful web site is starting to suffer spam attacks to user accounts and email subscribers. No damage so far, but we may need to disable the sign-up feature. You may notice some changes to the pages as we deal with this.)

Rumour Mill

Needless to say, with it being closed so long, and so little sign of action from Sam Smith, there are rumours circulating about what might be happening to the pub.

There are certainly NO live planning applications (*) for The Anchor at Redcar and Cleveland.

(What may be causing confusion is that next door No.18 which owns the back gardens of 18 & 20 right down to the cricket ground have made rear vehicle access and a new planning application for …

 

… wait for it

 

… two shepherd’s hut “glamping pods” R/2021/0376/CA  – a story which made The Gazette.)

=====

[(*) Note added – talking of rumours – there are lot of protections for what can and can’t be done with an existing pub so this shouldn’t be a concern and there are no suggestions Sam Smith have any alternate plans for any of their pubs. Anyway, so long as Sam Smith own it, whatever their intentions for re-opening it, there is little value in alternative ideas like (say) a community pub project. Leaving pubs closed for long periods – several decades(!) in one case – is not unheard of for Sam Smith. As per our last letter our efforts are currently directed at encouraging and helping Sam Smith get the pub functioning again, which includes helping find new management.]

Management Recruitment Difficulties Continue

At Friends of the Anchor we are hearing that not only have Sam Smith not yet recruited new management for the Anchor, but that they now have significantly more pubs without management than when we communicated previously. This obviously raises serious concerns about how long it might take beyond June 21st to get the bar up and running post-Covid, as well as longer term management questions.

Today we’ve sent the attached follow-up letter reinforcing our interest and offering whatever help they might accept.

As ever, any additional thoughts and suggestions are welcome, either in private (via the contact form) or in public (via comments or social media).

It’s Our Pub, We’ll Sort It

A suggested, we had what turned out to be a very brief call with Humphrey Smith. Apart from confirming that the management team vacancy remains unfilled, effectively all that was said is “it’s our pub, we’ll sort it”.

I wasn’t able to raise any further points regarding our previous long-term suggestions, nor even raise any practical concerns about the ongoing vacant state of the fabric of the building (and the drains!)

As customers and neighbours we would hope the brewery would demonstrate some interest in our concerns and recognise the value in engaging with us. We’d be interested in any public/open or private/confidential thoughts on possible next moves before drafting another letter as Friends of the Anchor.

Always happy to hear from people via messages or the contact form. All contact treated in confidence unless you indicate otherwise.

No Signs of Life

Tomorrow is the 1st April and still no sign of life at the Anchor.

According to Linda Stuart, our letter was seen by Humphrey Smith, but no sign of any reply to our positive suggestions nor any changes in management policies.

Most worrying, there are still 58 Sam Smiths Northern pubs with live vacancies for new management and the Anchor isn’t one of them. The original advertised  vacancy for the Anchor expired back in December though it is always possible to apply directly here.

Hoping to communicate with Humphrey Smith directly, but always open to suggestions from Friends of the Anchor.