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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2016-12-02

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Chester campaigners recognised for saving their local pub in new CAMRA award

CAMPAIGNERS in Chester who saved a valued local threatened with closure have become finalists in the Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) 1st ever Pub Saving Award. The Centurion Pub faced sudden closure when Admiral Taverns sold it to a property developer in October 2014 with the intention of demolishing the pub to build a new care home. The pub, which was built as a community local on a housing estate 50 years ago, has provided a hub for the community for many years.

CAMRA was particularly impressed by how the Centurion Community Action Group (CCAG), with the support of the local CAMRA branch, banded together to raise a huge number of objections to the plans, persuading the local Council to refuse the application. The decision was appealed to the Planning Inspectorate but ultimately upheld, giving the campaigners a chance to bid for the pub themselves. In the space of a fortnight, the community raised a staggering £21,000 to pay for 3 months' rent in advance and are now running the pub under a 12 month lease with the hopes of purchasing it in September 2017.

Since being re-opened by the community the Centurion has been thriving, offering a range of real ales on draught as well as social opportunities ranging from weekly quiz nights, coffee mornings, car boot sales, training courses, group meetings for local associations and events including birthdays, christening parties and funeral wakes.

The Pub Saving Award was launched by CAMRA this year to recognise communities who have successfully rescued local pubs from closure. The Centurion Community Action Group will be presented with an award on the 10th December at 8:00pm at an event open to the media.

Trevor Jones from the Centurion Community Action Group says:- "The CCAG are delighted to have been given the opportunity by Admiral Taverns to show that the Centurion is a viable much needed and loved pub for Vicars Cross. We appreciate that our campaign to defeat 2 planning applications and the subsequent appeal could not have been achieved without the support and continual advice from Chris Matheson MP, our local councillors Pam Hall and Keith Board, Great Boughton Parish Council and especially CAMRA. The local CAMRA pub protection team of Campbell Smith, Keith Porter and Ian Williams were fantastic over the last 20 months."

Keith Porter, Chester & S Clwyd CAMRA Pub Protection Group says:- "The CAMRA branch was delighted to have been able to help the CCAG in their campaign to reopen the Centurion. The CCAG leaders conducted a model campaign, highly professional and well managed. It was particularly satisfying to help debunk the flawed arguments about the pub viability."

The 'Save the Drovers' campaign in Dorset took the crown this year and will be awarded at a presentation event, on the 27 November 2016, at 4:30 pm. The Bristol House Inn group in Weston Super Mare was also a finalist in the competition, and will be presented with their award on Tuesday, 29 November 2016, at 7:45 pm.


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