University Arms ACV rejection is ‘called-in’
On 27th.September, Sheffield City Council (SCC) refused our application to register the University Arms (UA) as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). However, a week later, the decision was ‘called-in’ by the opposition.
As soon as the decision was made public, the Sheffield CAMRA Chair and myself agreed to meet with Ccl.Jack Scott, the SCC Cabinet Member for Community Services and Libraries, who made the ACV rejection decision. However, before this meeting could take place, we learnt that the decision had been ‘called-in.’
A ‘call-in’ is intended to be used in exceptional circumstances when councillors believe that a decision has been taken in a way that is contrary to the council’s principles of decision making. It is not intended to be used to appeal a decision that is simply disagreed with. The Scrutiny Panel for the call-in’ will take place at Sheffield Town Hall on Thursday 20th.October (16:00-19:00). Members of the public can attend and ask questions.
The ACV rejection ‘reason for decision,’ includes: ‘ The owner describes it as a ‘student pub’ suggesting that its patronage is only a section of the community. …. No evidence has been provided to the contrary.’
This statement is simply incorrect, a ‘student pub’ states that access is restricted to students: this is not the case. The pub is a long-standing entry in the Good Beer Guide: hence, many visitors visit from far-afield.
The number of successful ACV pub applications which has been approved by SCC is pitifully small: seven from a total of (only) 19 applications (5/15 from CAMRA). This compares unfavourably with the record of many other councils. For example, all pubs in Otley have ACV status and Aylesbury and Wycombe have listed over 150 pubs as ACV. CAMRA sees ACV status as a clear badge of honour for both owners and licensees. It is a clear indication that the pub matters to the community.
Our UA ACV application was submitted on 16th.May. Advice from CAMRA HQ was followed throughout the nomination process. In our opinion, and that of our colleagues in St.Albans, the application clearly reached the statutory test outlined by the Government. A decision should then arrive within 8 weeks of the application – it took SCC over 4 months …. unfortunately such a delay seems to be the local norm.
As part of this process, in late July, we received a six-page objection from a legal company, Pinsent Masons, employed by the owners of the UA, the University of Sheffield. A number of items which ‘could be used to support the application’ are suggested by Pinsent Masons. However, legally, these are unnecessary. In our opinion, these comments were deliberately added in order to confuse the situation. We were given seven days to respond (which we did).
We were surprised to receive an objection from the University as we believe that ACV status is something of which any pub would be proud, especially as, judging from 2016 publications, the University and ourselves do seem to have many common aims and ideas. However, it seems that their long-term ambitions for the site outweigh other considerations. As previously reported, the University development masterplan, includes an option in which the pub is demolished.
Dave Pickersgill – Pub Heritage Officer, Sheffield and District CAMRA