Thursday 12th February 2015
"We're at the first step - it'll be a long fight - but we're up for it!" That was Andy Bell, from Friends Of The Wellington, as he addressed Chesterfield Borough Council last night in the chambers - during an impassioned and often emotional evening, when local councillors debated the petition to designate the pub an Asset of Community Value, and issue an Article 4 direction preventing development.
The public galleries were both open as people from New Whittington (above), who use the pub packed in (it was noted by the Councillors that it was the only time since the 1984 miner's strike that they had opened the two sides of the gallery), to first hear Chief Executive Huw Bowen outline the formalities of the evening and explain the process.
The debate had been triggered by the sheer weight of signatures on the petition, amounting to over 1,000 (confirmed on the evening to be now nearer 2,000).
Mr Bowen (left), explained that The Wellington had been owned by Marston's until 2013 when it was sold to New River Retail which also bought two other pubs locally - the Spital and Wheatsheaf on Newbold Road - with the aim of converting them into convenience stores leased by the Co-op.
Andy Bell, a local resident of New Whittington and customer at the pub on the High Street, stood to speak. He began by recognising the, "honour and responsibility" he had been given by the village in speaking to the council and he said he hoped he could "get across the importance of feeling" in the village regarding what he described as the "hub of the community."
He continued, "We are not alone. Over the years, we have seen pubs go to the wall or been converted, demolished even, but the situation is now different - the same thing is happening to viable pubs - it's happening across the UK and it's down to owners seeing they can make more profit. It's such a big issue that it's being debated in London."
Asking the council to consider the ACV and Article 4 direction, Mr Bell said he felt the case was strong, "The Wellington ticks all the boxes - the decision to list as an Asset of Community Value is now with the council - the decision that they make will demonstrate the commitment to it's own policies, it will show council support for the community that would be affected if the pub was turned into a store. It would show a commitment to local issues rather than businesses there to maximise profit."
In regards to the Article 4 Directive, Mr Bell explained an article being granted would, "Remove permitted development rights that big companies are using to exploit community assets, without communities having a say - it will also stop them demolishing it."
He added, "The Wellington is a viable pub; the only threat to it is the current owners and their plans for it. We class New Whittington as a semi rural area - there are very limited resources to be able to provide the same facilities. The loss of The Wellington would have a great impact on the community and the other businesses that benefit from it.
"We are asking the council to grant us an immediate Article 4 direction - we expect a planning application to come in very soon.
"The community of New Whittington has been galvanised by the fight. We know we're at the first step, it'll be a long fight, but we are up for it! We're a small community and we are up against big profit making businesses - we are asking the council to fully support us."
Huw Bowen then confirmed that the council is legally required to consult stakeholders in these decisions but Donna Reddish, who works for the council, explained that New River had been contacted regarding the ACV but no comment had been forthcoming by the deadline of 7th February which she said was "unusual."
Questions were then taken from the floor with Cllr Murphy first congratulating Mr Bell on the, "Excellent presentation" asking about the viability of the pub.
Mr Bell explained the pub is currently, "The hub of the community - central to social cohesion." He went onto talk about the viability of the pub and saying that, "There's no way the pub is going to stop being used - it's future is assured."
Cllr Brittain asked Mr Bell to expand on the community value he believes The Wellington offers, asking whether the pub offers things that others don't.
Mr Bell answered that, "It's the only pub in the area which provides pensioner means, often delivered, even in times of snow when carers can't always get in to homes. Those with learning disabilities are welcome there for meals and it's the only wheelchair accessible pub for miles."
Cllr Paul Stone then asked if there were any points that Mr Bell had not been able to raise during the presentation.
Cllr Flood said she was pleased to learn of the things done to make it a socially cohesive pub, and asked what groups had meetings there - if the pub was no longer there, would the community be disadvantaged?
Mr Bell explained that various groups and charities met there on a regular basis.
Cllr Borrell asked regarding the ACV, questioning whether New River Retail were selling or leasing the property?
Mr Bell replied that, "We know that New River plans to lease it to the Co-op under a 15 year lease - so in that case, it won't kick in as ACV, but if we are granted an ACV and it doesn't go through planning, then New River will need to sell it on to someone who will keep it as a pub."
It was then left to Cllr Terry Gilby, Deputy Leader of The Council, to reply. He expressed thanks to the Friends of The Wellington for their effort in collecting signatures and noted the two galleries in use. "This," he said, "showed the strength of feeling. This was last done in 1984 for the miner's strike!"
He thanked Andy Bell for submitting the petition and the supporting evidence and declared the matter now for his consideration, revealing that the decision would be taken on the 2nd March 2015. He added that, "It is now for me to keep my counsel over these decisions and the decision I make will be made, not just on what I have heard tonight but with the policies and processes in place."
The debate then began with Cllr Innes noting her, "support for this - what hasn't come over is that The Wellington uses local shops; they spend back in the community." She also confirmed the support of local MP Natsacha Engel for the campaign.
Cllr Higginbottom spoke next, thanking Mr Bell for the presentation and saying that it was, "Brilliant that the community are showing how they feel about something important to them, tonight is a classic example of how communities can be heard, I wish there was more of this. Mr Bell has made a clear case of the importance of pubs in the community and how these are important - the things they do are valuable and as a council we need to take these things very seriously."
Cllr Bingham, local representative for New Whittington, was emotional as he said, "Credit is due to everyone for this campaign. I'm proud of my community. It's our community and not for the corporates. How many supermarkets do we want in our community? These little shops that they will put out of business are trying to earn their living too, The Wellington supports them - all the money created by this pub stays in the village."
Cllr Morgan spoke of the issue which affects his ward, Walton, most, "Loneliness. There are certain institutions which hold communities together - halls, churches and pubs. If the public houses go at the rate they are, there will no longer be anywhere secular for people to go. I want to make that point very strongly. I support Mr Bell tonight - he's put a very strong case forward."
Cllr Paul Stone - another representative of New Whittington - then spoke in support of the, "Attendees - we've had pubs closed down in New Whittington before and this has never happened. Councillors take note. I believe that all the boxes have been ticked for article 4. I urge you to support Viky Muddiman and all those who have supported."
Leader of The council John Burrows (left), spoke finally saying, "I congratulate Mr Bell on his knowledgeable and passionate delivery.
"I recognise the argument of the petition - the turnout shows the success of those people.
This is an excellent example of community politics rather than party politics. I personally support the pub industry both morally and physically (I suppose that means I like a pint!)
"I think the difference is the clear demonstration of community concern - 2,000 signatures demonstrates that.
"We will now go through the processes in a proper manner with the support and advice of our professional officers.
"Good luck with the campaign!"
In response to the debate, Mr Bell said that he had a much clearer idea of the processes and spoke of his frustration that things cannot happen more quickly. He added that, "People in New Whittington tend to look out for each other - that's because people get together in The Wellington."
The council voted unanimously to receive the petition with Cllr Gilby moving the motion that :
(1) The council receives and notes the petition from the Friends of The Wellington campaign group as part of the evidence supporting the requests made for:
A. The Wellington to be added to the list of Assets of Community Value
B. An immediate Article 4 Direction to be issued.
(2) That the Executive Member For Planning takes into account the petition and also the representations made at both the council and Planning Committee (scheduled for the 23rd February) before arriving at a final decision on both matters.
CHEERS! LOCAL PUB CELEBRATES VICTORY OVER DEVELOPMENT GIANTS -
Local campaigners are celebrating today after winning their battle to keep a local pub open amid plans to turn it into a convenience store. More...
BARLEY MOW HOPES FOR ENTERPRISE COMMUNITY HEROES AWARD SUCCESS -
A Chesterfield pub is in line to win a national award after being recognised for its commitment to helping the local community. More...
PUB OPENS IN CHESTERFIELD AFTER £300k INVESTMENT -
A brand new pub has opened in Chesterfield following a £300k investment of the building. The Burlington, which has been named after the street on which it resides, opened its doors on Friday 22nd May
More & Audio...
RECOGNISED PUB - THE WELLINGTON - IS 'OF VALUE' SAYS MP NATASCHA ENGEL -
Beer lovers and their MP are raising a glass as councillors have agreed to grant a popular local pub protected status. More...
ARE THE 'ULTIMATE GEEKS' FIVE YEARS RUNNING! -
Chesterfield's very own cocktail bar have recently celebrated their fifth year of running their pub quiz with a twist! More...
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE WELLY SAYS N E DERBYSHIRE MP NATASCHA ENGEL -
A campaign to save a New Whittington pub has stepped up a gear, with the support of North East Derbyshire's MP. More...
MP DISMAYED OVER GOVERNMENT'S 'FAILURE TO PROTECT PUBS' -
NE Derbyshire MP Natascha Engel has spoken of her frustration over the government's scuppering of a measure that would help protect community pubs More...
PUBLIC MEETING SEES VILLAGERS VOW TO SAVE POPULAR LOCAL PUB -
New Whittington resident Dave Tagg spoke at a public meeting attended by over 200 people set up to discuss plans to turn what they say is a 'much needed' community pub into a convenience store - believed to be a Co-op. More & Audio...
CAMPAIGN TO SAVE POPULAR LOCAL BEGINS IN NEW WHITTINGTON -
A campaign has been mounted in a Chesterfield village by residents who hope to save one of their popular locals from being closed - and being re-opened as a convenience store. More...
GET YOUR GLAD RAGS ON AND PLATFORM SHOES OUT... -
New Whittington social club are organising a 70's / 80's Fancy Dress Disco on Saturday, 21st December 2013 from 7.30pm till late - and would like to invite everyone along to join in the fun, and dance the night away! More...
THE PUB PEOPLE COMPANY JOINS SUPPORT FOR FOOD BANK CHARITY -
Christmas is a time for giving and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves, and several pubs in Chesterfield have entered into the spirit of that this festive season.
GRADE II LISTED CHESTERFIELD PUB UNDERGOS MAJOR REFURBISHMENT -
It's a pub familiar to many of us in Chesterfield and it's been announced that The Hunloke Arms, a Grade II listed historical public house - is currently undergoing a £0.5m refurbishment. More...
COMMUNITY PUB RE-OPENS -
The Holme Hall Inn (formerly, the Holmebrook Tavern) is set to have its grand re-opening More...
NEW INN, NEW TUPTON, NEEDS NEW TENANTS! -
A great opportunity as the New Inn pub, in New Tupton, is looking for a new tenant! More...
NEW WHITTINGTON PUB DEDICATES AWARD TO STAFF & CUSTOMERS -
A New Whittington pub that has just been named as a runner up in the regional Community Pub of the Year awards, has dedicated the honour to its customers. More...
CALLING TIME ON A RETAIL CAREER -
A Chesterfield couple is to star in a recruitment campaign by Punch Taverns, aimed at stressing the benefits of a career in the pub trade. More...
THE MAYOR 'CHEERS' ON LOCAL BUSINESS -
The Mayor and Mayoress of Chesterfield have officially opened the refurbished Gardeners Arms pub on Glumangate. More...
THE WELLINGTON PUB CHRISTMAS FAYRE 2011 -
The 'Welly' is a traditional, family run pub in the village of New Whittington, Chesterfield on the main bus route from Chesterfield Town to Eckington. More...