It's not over yet!

Tuesday 3rd October 2000 10:00 pm
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MADAM,

Thanks to our elected officers on the Planning Committee we have been given the chance to fight on with our campaign to save the Halfway House Inn from closure.

We have not been helped by the undemocratic actions of Llantilio Crossenny Community Council allowing one councillor to decide the whole community's view on the pub's future without meetings or consultation, followed by a closed Council meeting barring 10 local electors from observing and where all councillors closed ranks to support the pub closure.

However we would like to comment on the Planning Report which came down on the side of the application to change its use into a country house. It made the case that this pub does not have its own strong local focus giving details of six regular locals!

It also made a strong case for the Hostry pub taking over the community role from the Halfway. It also suggested the pub was not viable on the basis of accountants' reports. The report also showed satisfaction that the pub had been marketed effectively.

Yet we cannot accept these facts and explain why this pub is still successful and should be looking forward to further success not doom and gloom!

This pub has a strong local focus.

The benefits to the community can be proved as we have a petition and letters from nearly 100 locals and a list of towards 150 regular customers who currently or very recently supported the pub. Twenty of these regulars are within walking distance.

This pub therefore does have a very strong local focus but it also has an important regional focus as do all our local pubs which succeed. The Halfway House Inn is also the focus for: local darts teams; recent cricket fixtures; golfers staying B & B locally or at the pub; B & B visitors at local farms who direct their guests here for evening meals etc.; campers and caravanners from nearby farms; tourists visiting Whitecastle and other tourist sites on the B4233; friends' and neighbours' birthday and anniversary parties as well as for local heroes from the world of rugby and pop music; diners from Monmouth, Abergavenny and Raglan and further who enjoy and have enjoyed the ambience of this 300 year old meeting place.

Why should we accept another pub as a substitute?

To suggest that the Hostry Pub 1.7 miles west of the Halfway is sufficiently well placed to take over the social function of the Halfway is too simplified an argument. One would not use this argument where there are two successful businesses in other fields. Also this area needs competition to keep pub owners innovating and improving their businesses. Just look at the successful pubs like the Hunters Moon, The Cripple Creek and The Three Salmons. The Halfway is also the only pub between its local community and Monmouth taking locals from the Onen, Hendre, Llangattock and Llanvihangel areas etc. This represents more than five sq. miles with a hundred or mole houses. Why force these people to travel another four miles more than necessary?

How can we really assess viability?

As regards viability the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA): Advice to Planners booklet has a test which if applied to this pub makes clear that this should be a viable pub. We believe that this potential viability test is fairer than looking at the normal accountants' bleak views of profits - their occupational right! Every pub has its ups and downs yet we believe this pub has been viable, and should continue to be viable.

How has this pub been marketed?

Why has the pub not been marketed in Wales but in Bristol. Has the Bristol firm advertised in Wales and if so in what publications?

We would like more specific information on how this pub has been marketed. We know that the price has varied by up to £40,000 and is now on sale at £235,000 whereas it was £215,000 and has allegedly been £195,000. What parts of the grounds were offered at each price and has the newly approved caravan site - a part of the pub's site - been offered in these prices? Surely no one would buy anything other than the whole site as this is what makes this pub so special. Reassure us that the package has been the original site and not with major parts of it detached.

We feel that the Halfway House Inn with its excellent roadside position making access from Abergavenny and Monmouth easy has a strong local and regional focus and should be retained as a pub and public meeting place for the community.

STOP (Save The Old Pubs) Campaign