I write in reply to a letter by someone who signs himself Briggsy, “Real Ale Up North”.
I and others recently gave evidence to a planning inspector who came to review the council’s decision not to give planning permission to turn the Alma pub into residential property. The Alma is the last remaining house pub left in the borough and is part of the local conservation area.
For the uninitiated, planning inspectors only take on board legitimate planning reasons and my main thrust was the preservation of the atmosphere created in the preservation area and not just the bricks and mortar, good though they were, of the application.
Another planning consideration is impact on the local economy and as the Padiham “Top of the town triangle” has been reduced to two since the Whalley Range closed, I carefully chose my words in suggesting to the inspector the reduction to one remaining pub, The Hare and Hounds, could possibly have an impact on the small percentage of customers who walk up from the town on summer afternoons. I say carefully chose my words because, although this was not something which could be monitored or proven, it was something else for the inspector to consider in his deliberations, among other things.
I was not aware at this point that a reporter was in the room. I had my back to the public and only found later that I had actually been misquoted as saying there would be an effect on the Hare and Hounds. I could not logically say that and indeed never did. I mentally excused the misquote as a lot of evidence was being put forward from all parts of the room to the inspector, often with a passion.
I subsequently received a call from the lady who runs the Hare and Hounds and was happy to explain that what she had read was not verbatim what I had said and we had an amicable conversation in which she told me how well her pub was doing and her aspirations for its place in community life. We parted on friendly terms.
I was however surprised to read the “Briggsy” letter which called me blinkered in the extreme, said my views were ridiculous and preposterous, on another planet, bonkers and narrow-minded. I may have inadvertently upset the odd person here or there over the past few decades trying to improve Padiham but never intentionally. Whoever “Briggsy” is he does not know me, has never met me and was not even in the hearing himself to hear but simply picked up the misquote and without even the courtesy of a call, wrote this tripe to the letters page.
I am told by a friend that “Briggsy” writes articles on beers for the Telegraph, which is a little worrying. One can only hope he employs better research in his articles on “Real Ale Up North” than he has shown in this episode.