A success story involving locals has been reported by real ale campaigners this week. The “locals” in question are pubs that hosted a variety of events aimed at highlighting the role they play in the life of the local community. Local Pubs Week was organised by Lunesdale branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and covered an area from North Yorkshire to Garstang.
Pubs pulled out all the stops with an imaginative programme of events that included beer festivals, special food and drink events, competitions, a treasure hunt and an ale trail. Mitchell’s pubs showcased beers from 10 breweries, including local firms Brysons, Lancaster, and the new Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery. York Brewery brewed a commemorative ale especially for Local Pubs Weekand Hawkshead’s specially made bitter, Pride of Garstang, was on sale in The Wheatsheaf, with 10p a pint going to local charity.
LPW featured on Tony Livesey’s breakfast show on Radio Lancashire and got an additional boost when Morecambe and Lonsdale MP Geraldine Smith presented prizes to winners of a competition organised by the landlord of Morecambe’s Smugglers’ Den.
The MP spoke of the difficulties faced by pubs as a result of rising prices, the smoking ban and the growth of cheap outlets such as supermakets and off licenses. “It’s far more enjoyable to drink in a place with real atmosphere like your local. But we can’t take the community pub for granted — it’s a case of use it or lose it.”
Summing up LPW, CAMRA spokesman Julian Holt said, “The week has been a wonderful response to the prophets of doom who claim that “the local” is a thing of the past. It’s true that many have closed or are under threat but these events have proved the vibrancy and versatility of pubs and their importance for the local community as places where people of all ages can meet, socialise and drink sensibly in comfortable surroundings.”
He added: “The focus on local pubs has also confirmed how lucky people in the Lunesdale area are when it comes to the variety of real ales found here. As someone commented to me during the week: “The choice of beers available in the pubs we visited was just fantastic — far better than, say, ten years ago.&rdquo