A team of Ukippers attended a meeting at the Sheraton Pub in Hardwick, this evening. The Sheraton is the last remaining pub in Hardwick, and the regular pub goers are concerned that their community pub is to be sold to be turned into a nursery. Members of the community have launched a “Save the Sheraton” campaign on Facebook and you can view it here.
We in UKIP are no strangers to Save the Pub Campaigns, and you can view Nigel’s opinions on our local pubs here:
Unfortunately I couldn’t be present as I am in Blackpool for the UKIP North West Spring Conference. However, to show support, the meeting was attended by the UKIP regional organiser Gordon Parkin, John Leathley, UKIP PPC for Sedgefield and Ted Strike, UKIP PPC for Stockton South.
John and Gordon spoke to me after the event. John said that Alex Cunningham, the current Stockton North Labour MP, attended and gave speech where he outlined his intention to contact a brewery which owned a viable pub for advice on what could be done to save the Sheraton. However, Mr Cunningham was shouted down by irate members of the audience who apparently felt that he was all talk and no substance.
Gordon Parkin spoke to those assembled and was well received with a great round of applause. Mr. Cunningham accused Gordon of saying that planners were receiving back-handers, but Gordon said no such thing. Other UKIP members present stood up and talked about writing letters individually to the planning committee to do their best to make sure that local views were taken into account. It is UKIP policy to always work in the best interests of local people.
Of course, Mr Cunningham has form with his insults. He agreed with his leader, Gordon Brown, that he was right to refer to Gillian Duffy as “that bigoted woman” when she questioned him on immigration. He only apologised to Mrs Duffy when he was forced to do so by his party leadership. And regular readers will recall the dreadful letter he sent me, full of nasty insinuations, which I received soon after I was selected by UKIP members to be the PPC for Stockton North.
Since writing the above, a UKIP councillor in Portsmouth, Julie Swan, has advised me of an update to the NPPF (National Policy Planning Framework) which now contains several national policies which are protective of pubs, most notably a requirement that planning authorities should guard against the loss of valued community facilities like pubs.
Two recent decisions by Planning Inspectors demonstrate the power and value of the NPPF for pub campaigners. Read more here.