Weekly Column

Last week was another busy week in Parliament not only with the Brexit negotiations but we also had the Queen’s Speech and the following days of debate. On Thursday I spoke in the debate about the important issues in Staffordshire Moorlands of rural buses and the on-going problem of school transport provision.

I also joined Len Tildsley from Buxton & Leek College and other College principals at the Staffordshire Association of Colleges biennial dinner in Parliament, hosted another coach trip of constituents on a Tour of Parliament and met Terry Rogers and Brian Griffiths, two committee members from the team that reopened the Auctioneers Arms in Caverswall.

Terry and Brian had been invited to the House of Lords by the Plunkett Foundation in recognition of the success of the pub as a community asset and I was pleased to be able to give them a tour and arrange for them to watch events in the Chamber from the Gallery.

Through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, including pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell up, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding in order to try to save it. I am glad to say that there are now around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.

The Auctioneers Arms was a much-loved pub that closed down as the owners wanted to sell. It was put on the market and the people in the village bought shares, supported by the Plunkett Foundation.  The pub is now running as a really successful business and is just one of the pubs in Staffordshire Moorlands that has been bought by the community. Congratulations to everyone concerned on this great success story.