By Matt Taylor
After divine intervention from a local priest earlier this month, we reported that the Coachmaker’s Arms was thrown a lifeline which could save it from demolition plans as part of the East West Centre development.
Father Peter Weatherby of the Sacred Heart Church stepped in and got the campaign national recognition by arranging to get the petition onto the Number 10 website, which lobbies direct to the Prime Minister’s office. Now, having had such high-profile coverage, the plight of the pub is attracting attention from global media organisations. Last week, licensee Jason Barlow was even interviewed by the New York Chronicle.
But closer to home, the fight to keep the pub, which is one of very few thriving traditional pubs in the city-centre, has now gained the support of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group which believes:
“British pubs are an important part of this country’s history and heritage and are hugely important to the communities they serve; believes that well-run community pubs are sociable, controlled environments in which to enjoy alcohol and so are part of the solution to problem drinking; further believes that too many pubs up and down the country are being closed, for a variety of reasons, and often when they do not need to and should not close; further believes there is an urgent need for the Government to take action in terms for support and legislative changes to address this.”
In a letter to award-winning licensee Jason Barlow, Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds and chairman of the group, said:
“The”¦Group fully recognises the importance of Pubs such as the Coachmakers Arms to the communities they serve and particularly striking in this case is the pub’s one hundred and sixty year history within the community of Hanley.
“We think it is a scandal that popular and in many cases viable pubs are closing, usually just so developers can make money from what they see as a soft option to get planning permission. Some councils are supportive of pubs and will work with communities, some sadly are not. This is why it is so essential that planning law is of statuary consultation whenever a pub is closed and including a mandatory viability test.
“I have signed the petition that you have put on the Number Ten website and am also happy to formally give you the support in your campaign to save your pub on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group.”
The paper and online petitions previously attained nearly 10,000 signatures. Now the pub and its followers have the support of local MP Mark Fisher, as well as all of the MPs who have joined the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group. Can all of these people really be wrong? Or should the architects come up with modified plans to retain the historic Coachmaker’s Arms within the East West development?