Saturday, 11 August 2012

More than *just* a pub: a George IV update

Last weekend we brought you news of Tesco's plans to turn the George IV Music Bar in Brixton Hill into an Express grocery store, and the petition to stop it.

I wanted to inform you of several important updates, which should give us heart going forward.

The first is to say that shortly after writing the post I received a lovely email from Vanessa Pope, who is involved in running local arts group The Effort Collective. The significant thing about this is that apart from being a hugely talented group of creative people, they are based at the George IV, both rehearsing and performing at the venue. As I said in the original post, pubs can perform a vital community function, and not just as a place in which to drink and be merry.

Take a look at The Effort Collective's website to see what they've been up to in recent months: some really interesting and innovative work in theatre, film and music. I certainly want to see what they do in the future and want them to be given the opportunity to go from strength to strength.

Vanessa tells me: "We have worked out of the fantastic facilities of George IV has to offer over the past 2 years: filming in the back room, make-up in the front room, theatre rehearsals and performances all over, band rehearsals in the basement.

"We are fully aware of the wonderful, productive uses this historic building can have and it would be a terrible shame to see it turned into a supermarket."

The other great piece of news is on the online petition, which following my blog of last weekend quickly exceeded our target of 1,000 signatures and now stands at more than 1,200. Please continue to sign it. Huge thanks should go to my Lambeth Green Party colleague Bridget Chapman for setting this up and making people aware of Tesco's plans.

I've written to a number of people, who are - or should be - involved in this process, with mixed results, to seek more information and to demand action.

I've written to Tesco: and, whose names were provided as contacts on a letter of consultation that hardly anyone in the immediate area appears to have received. No response, and I would suggest that this speaks volumes.  I urge you to write to them as well to tell them what you think of their plans and to ask why their letter wasn't properly circulated. A change of use at the site of the pub appears to have been passed by the council without anyone being made aware of the scheme, and they've obviously left it very late in the day for people to try to stop the plans.

I've also written to Brixton Hill's three councillors, all Labour. That this Tesco scheme has got this far already should be of great embarrassment to them. They are Florecence Nosegbe (, Steve Reed, Council Leader (, and Alex Holland ( Cllr Nosegbe, has written back to me to say she hopes to meet with the various parties involved and has asked that the decision on the current application goes before a meeting of the planning committee. I've got an Out of Office reply from Cllr Holland. I hope to hear from him on his return. I've have received no response from the leader of Lambeth Council. I've urge you to these councillors and tell them of your strength of feeling on this issue. They're our elected representatives. They should represent us.

Furthermore I've contacted Lambeth Council's planning officers (, because at present the plan before the council, to remove railings and turn the beer garden into a car park, is set to be dealt with by them under delegated powers. I have received an email to say my objection, along with others, has been registered. I suggest you do the same. We can't assume that our elected representatives will do right thing and call this decision in before a full meeting of the planning committee. Tell them that the loss of the George IV would go against stated council policy of preserving historic pubs such as this. And tell them of the effect that having a busy car park on a Red Route will have on traffic. Do so quoting the application reference 12/02757/FUL‏. You need to do this by August 14, so not long.

I have today also written to the local MP and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna. This is an issue which is written large across the constituency: the dominance of big supermarkets, the decline of corner shops and the decline of the local pub. Last time I wrote to *my* MP, I did not even receive an acknowledgement. I hope to do better on this issue. Why don't you join me in getting him working for us?

I will keep you posted. In the meantime feel free to contact me on or or contact us via Twitter or Facebook

Best wishes

Andrew Child
Lambeth Green Party

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