Save The Red Lion Campaign Patrons

  • Sidbury Community Enterprises' community share offer launched to buy the Red Lion
  • Save The Red Lion Campaign Patrons - Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP & The Reverend Susie Williams
  • Campaign's company - Sidbury Community Enterprises - has made an offer to buy the Red Lion
  • East Devon District Council has listed the Red Lion pub as an Asset of Community Value - a significant Campaign milestone

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Publicans' trade magazine article on Campaign

Just as we were about to give up that the publicans' trade magazine, the Publican's Morning Advertiser, was going to produce an article about the Campaign, it appeared yesterday! To access the article follow the link -

It is heartening to see that even the publican's own magazine sees our Campaign as a story in the making!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Campaign could blaze a trail in East Devon!

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is running a campaign to put 300 pubs on to local authority lists as "assets of community value". The Community Pubs Minister, Brandon Lewis, is supporting CAMRA's campaign and the listing of the Red Lion as an "asset of community value" will need to be a consideration for a campaign to retain the Red Lion as the pub in the heart of the village.

The Red Lion, like the other pubs that CAMRA wants to see listed as part of its campaign, can be determined by the local authority (East Devon District Council) as an "asset of community value" under the Community Right to Bid legislation.  By doing so, this would allow a community/campaign group to be able to put the sale of the pub on hold whilst it looked to put together a viable businesss plan and try to secure funding to buy and successfully run the pub. If this were to happen the community/campaign group has 6 months to bring about the purchase of the pub. Therefore, it is best to leave it until the last possible minute to seek listing, as this buys the maximum amount of time to seek to secure funding.

This approach has the support not only of CAMRA, but also the Community Pubs Minister, who, following the listing of the Ivy House pub in Nunhead that led to the recent succcessful community purchase of it, said "The Community Right to Bid has saved its first ever pub - the Ivy House. We (the government) are determined to see more communities across the country follow in the Ivy House's footseps so we are working with CAMRA to encourage people to list their local as a way to safeguard the future of their favourite pub using community right".

The Minister also said that the government had "..extended the tax breaks for small firms like community pubs for another tax year". For more detail on what the minister said recently on these matters -

As part of CAMRA's campaign to get 300 pubs listed its Chief Executive, Mike Benner, recently said "This (listing as an "asset of community value") is a massive step forward in the battle to protect pubs." For more detail on CAMRA's campaign to list 300 pubs as "assets of community value" -

It is very clear from all of this that there is support from govenmrnt for local communities/campaign groups to keep their local pubs where they can. Hopefully, local MP, Hugo Swire, will support any campaign that seeks to list the Red Lion as an "asset of the community" as the campaign would merely be following the encouragement of the government in their actions. It may well be that Hugo Swire will receive a knock on his door along with a request to lend his weight behind a local campaign. If the Red Lion was listed by East Devon District Council then it would be the first business in the area to receive such a listing. A trail could be blazed in Sidbury!

Should no potential owner(s) emerge with a plan to run the Red Lion as the pub in the heart of the village, then we could well see it being listed as an "asset of community value". This was discussed at the open meeting on 19 May where the requisite 21 electors signed to allow the Campaign to seek to get the pub listed should that be deemed necessary at any point.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Catch the Campaign in the Exeter Daily

The Exeter Daily is a local on line news source. Please follow the link to like our article -

News of the Campaign just keeps popping up everywhere!

Look at our blog posting of 21May to see how this link into Streetlife via the Sidmouth Herald website can allow another virtual discussion of the Campaign to take place -

Let your fingers do the walking (clicking really) as the advert used to say!

A local community save their pub!

On the A396 from Exeter to Tiverton you come across the Stoke Canon Inn in the village of Stoke Canon. Here is a community which knows what it is like to live without their village pub. Until recently the villagers of Stoke Canon lost their pub for 18 months until they decided to group together and form a community pub that opened two years ago.
Bar manager Ken Bowden, who is the pub's only employee, said in the Exeter Express & Echo newspaper last week - "Things are going very well and the trade is very healthy. The pub was closed after two previous landlords could not make a go of it as the overheads were so high, as it was tied to a particular brewery. It was an unviable proposition but now we are on a very sound financial footing with a bit set aside in reserve.
"When it was closed for 18 months everyone was sat around scratching their heads as a village without a pub is not really a village. It is the heart of the community. And people did not socialise as much when it was not around. They would not see people the way they do now.
"People now come from all over to support us when they hear we are a community pub. I think our model is definitely the way forward. It is the only way to go with a struggling pub. It is a tough environment but it is vital people support their pub. Otherwise they will lose it”.
Ray Dwan, who is the secretary of the Exeter and East Devon CAMRA Branch, said: "Pubs are very important to a local community and have plenty of spin offs. They are a place for meeting people and the site of various activities and entertainment from pool to darts and quizzes. Many do very good food now as well.
"The industry is still struggling and there are approximately 20 a week closing nationally. The problems are that tenants have got so many out-goings with rent and restrictions on the beer they can buy.
"Sadly we have lost many of the good pubs and it is always a big loss to the community. We are faring better than many inner-city places with closures but we haven't been without losses”.
The moral of this story of a pub & a village that aren’t too far from Sidbury could not be any clearer. Pubs that are tied to the pub company are struggling to survive. However, there are many pubs that once they have been released from the shackles of the pub company they can revive & be successful. The Red Lion can roar again!
That is why the Campaign to retain the Red Lion is underway!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Sidmouth Herald report of open meeting

Today's Sidmouth Herald has reported very favourably about last Sunday's (19 May) open meeting & the start of the Campaign. The article, on page 8 of this week's paper, builds upon last week's report. You can read the full article by following this link -

After you follow the link you will need to click "NO" to the security prompt question in order to view the article. Clicking "YES" will leave you with a blank screen!

Many thanks to the Herald for it's continued support for the Campaign which has been given the accolade of "Pride in Sidmouth Herald".

Today's Sidmouth Herald reports on recent Campaign open meeting

On page 8 of today's Sidmouth Herald there is a good report on the Campaign open meeting held last Sunday. Hoping to post link to article soon.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Catch up on last week's local press Campaign reports

In case you missed the reports that were in last week's Express & Echo and Sidmouth Herald you can catch up with how they both reported the build up to last Sunday's (19 May) open meeting by following the links below to copies of the articles.

Both newspapers are also running follow up stories this week. We anticipate that they will be reporting on how the meeting went and what we decided to do. As soon as their articles appear on-line the link to them will be posted in this blog - so keep watching!

The link to the Express & Echo article of 16 May is -

The link to the Sidmouth Herald article of 17 May is -

Happy reading!

Open meeting's discussion highlights

At Sunday's (19 May) open meeting there was much discussion about the various options that there could be should Punch Taverns either not be able to find a buyer or what might happen if a buyer came forward. To assist in the discussions several diagramatic papers were circulated to remind the Campaign supporters of what the outcome of the various options might be.

Whilst the diagrams & discussions didn't cover all eventualities they gave food for thought as they covered -
  • The likely outcomes should Punch Taverns be unable to sell the pub
  • What could happen if Punch Taverns were able to sell the pub, and here there are a range of possibilities to be aware of
Additionally, a diagram setting out the steps to be taken to successfully establishing & championing a Campaign to retain the Red Lion was circulated. Of most significance here was the need to create a Steering Group to take the Campaign forward. The meeting agreed to establish a Steering Group.

All 3 sets of diagrams can be viewed by following the links -

Sidbury group try to make a drama out of a crisis!

Last week SIDS, the local village Sidbury into Drama group, were photographed outside of the Red Lion demonstrating their commitment to the Campaign to retain the pub at the heart of the village. The SIDS were posing for the Sidmouth Herald which used the photograph in their article in last week's edition of the paper.

Never let it be said that SIDS miss an opportunity to make a drama out of a crisis! Many thanks to them for organising the photo opportunity. Now which one of us took photographs of the open meeting? I fear that we all forgot to do that!

Never mind, we will have to make do with last week's SIDS photograph which was taken by Terry Ife & which is provided courtesy of the Sidmouth Herald -

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Another way to locally spread the Campaign message!

There is now an additionally way to get the message about the Campaign out there! In the Sidmouth Herald's online site click the following link that takes you directly to the home page -

In this page there is a section related to "Streetlife", which is described as - a way of sharing       " information, opinions and advice with people in your area on the local social network, brought to you in association with the Sidmouth Herald". This allows us a direct way of communicating with about 300 people locally who are linked into the site. We can get our message & our views across to these local people.

Once you are in the home page scroll down about one third of the way & look in the middle column. Under the heading uniting neighbours across the nation there is a strapline "Join the conversation where you live". You can either click into this or you can wait for our story to come around in the section below this. Our Story is "Open Meeting - 19 May" & it is posted by John L.

Go on give it a go. Spread our story & broaden the campaign interest!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Packed Sidbury village residents meeting launches Campaign Group

Yesterday's packed meeting of Sidbury village residents held in the skittle alley of the Red Lion pub heard genuine concerns expressed by many that the sale of the pub could lead to the closure of the only pub in the village. There was an overall view expressed that the pub could be an exciting & successful business opportunity that could ensure the Red Lion remained at the heart of the village.

There were over 50 residents who filled the skittle alley. This was quite a remarkable turnout given that the sale of the pub was unknown a month ago and it was only a fortnight ago that a few pub "regulars" decided to call the meeting. Those who attended yesterday represented a broad cross section of villagers, many of whom are already part of one local activity group or another within village life. The key decision taken at the meeting was to form a Campaign Group.

We were also aware from those who had sent their apologies that there were many others who wanted to be at the meeting & to show their support for a Campaign but who were unable to do so due to other commitments. It really would have been standing room only if they had all been able to come along!

The meeting discussed the possible options that could arise out of the pub being put up for sale. These included concerns that given the owners, Punch Taverns, dire financial problems it could find itself without a buyer and the village could find itself with a pub that becomes another closed & unused property like so many that blight the landscape of many towns & villages these days.

At the other end of the spectrum there was real enthusiasm to ensure that a buyer was found who was willing to invest in the property & to invest in growing the business that could be generated by the pub. It was recognised that such a buyer could indeed be a single, or group of purchasers, who saw the pub as an exciting opportunity to give the Red Lion its roar back.

The meeting was also concerned that a buyer might step forward with the intention of seeking to change the use of the pub from being that to another use. This caused significant concern to those present and the required 21 signatures of local electors were obtained so that, if required, the Campaign Group could seek to have the pub listed as an “asset of community value” under the Community Right to Bid (CRB) legislation. Follow the link for more detail on the CRB This was a significant step which could pave the way for the community possibly seeking to take control of the pub’s destiny.
It was agreed by all present that a Campaign Group needed to be formed & the following resolution was passed:

We agree to establish a Campaign Group with the objective of ensuring that the Red Lion, Sidbury is retained as a pub for the community.

To support this campaign we agree to create a Steering Group which is charged with fulfilling this objective.

We encourage all those who share the Campaign’s objective to join us.

The meeting elected a Steering Group, which includes residents who have a range of skills & experience, but all with the underlying enthusiasm that was broadly demonstrated yesterday, that will be useful in looking at the actions that need to now be undertaken just in case a buyer who wants to develop the pub’s business doesn’t come forward. The details of the Steering Group membership will be published soon.

The Steering Group will need to immediately look at key issues such as what planning objections can be mustered to block a potential change of use application, whether the community can or should develop a meaningful business plan for the pub & whether, and when, the Campaign Group might need to exercise its demand of East Devon District Council that it list the pub as an “asset of community value”. We have to ability to do this if needed!

The meeting, having formally established The Pub in the Village – Save The Red Lion Campaign Group, now has over 60 supporters, but we cannot stop here we need to get maximum local support for the campaign. Ask your family, friends or neighbours to become a Campaign supporter by sending their email details to We hope to get a supporters form on-line soon, but don’t wait give them the email address today!

Attempted sabotage of open meeting fails!

A culprite in the village was caught redhanded at the weekend deliberately trying to sabotage the open meeting held yesterday. Despite doing everything in their power to remove all signs of the poster that was displayed in the village, residents showed by the numbers in which they turned up at the meeting that this sabateur was not going to win!

Photographic evidence was obtained of the culprit as they were caught actively destroying a poster at Burnt Oak. As you can see from the photograph their damage was clearly a determined effort to undermine legitimate local concerns about the sale of the Red Lion -

All campaign supporters are urged to remain vigilant as it is believed this sabateur is not working alone and others are bound to be spreading out across the village to do their worst!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Rod Tucker, previous Red Lion landlord

It was with great saddness that at the start of today's open meeting we remembered Rod Tucker, a previous landlord of the Red Lion, who passed way yesterday. Our thoughts are with Mary, Rod's widow.

Great campaign launch today!

At lunchtime to day over 50 concened residents packed into the skittle alley at the Red Lion to discuss the implications for them & the village of the pub having been put up for sale by Punch Taverns. This turnout exceeded the expectations of the organisers & shows the depth of concern that there is locally to the sale of the pub. All of this in response to an issue that was not known about 4 weeks ago!

A detailed report on the meeting will be posted tomorrow. However, it is worth reporting now that the meeting agreed to establish a campaign group supported by a steering group charged with pusuing a campaign to retain the pub.

As a result the campaign group now has almost 60 founding members and steps will now be taken to increase the number of supporters of the campaign.

Other notable numbers linked to the campaign since we launched our social media sites 4 weeks ago are -
  • this blog has had over 1,000 visits
  • we now have 100 Facebook friends
  • we have 70 followers on Twitter
Despite Punch Taverns shameful lack of investment in the Red Lion whilst it has owned the pub & the inevitable consequences that will have had on trade, the campaign is now up & running & determined to ensure that a new owner can be found who has the business sense & vision to make the pub the heart of the village.

The Red Lion will roar loudly again!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Countdown to open meeting - 1 day to go

After the local press coverage over the past couple of days for the open meeting being held tomorrow it is now down to last minute conversations with friends & aquaintences to try to ensure that as many people that we know are aware of the meeting & the need to come & support it.

If you have yet to make your mind up what you will be doing tomorrow lunch time, then decide to move the Sunday roast back to tomorrow evening & pop down to the Red Lion for 12.30pm & come to the meeting. You will be able to sign up for the campaign & hear why we think that we need to be ready to make the argument for the pub's retention.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Sidmouth Herald publishes campaign story

Hard on the heels of yesterday's Express & Echo article about the need to retain the Red Lion today's Sidmouth Herald has a similar article alongside a photograph of some of the stalwarts of the Sidbury into Drama group outside of the pub. They all look suitably rather glum at the thought that they might lose their pub. The article can be viewed by clicking on this link Once you are viewing the paper you need to click to open the article at page 7.

One of the key pieces of information that we had hoped that the Herald would pass on through the article is  the date, time & venue for the open meeting  - Sunday 19 May at 12.30pm in the skittle alley at the pub. They have done this & so thanks to the Herald for that.

The Herald sees this as a story worth reporting upon. We shall make sure that the paper is kept abreast of events as they unfold.

Our Twitter account is back on-line!

Apologies if you have been trying to access our Twitter account over the past 12 hours but we inadvertantly enfringed its rules! This is what can happen when you start to utilise social media & you aren't fully up to speed with its niceties. As they say accidents will happen. We must learn & make sure we stick to the rules.

If you have a Twitter account then please take the time to follow us there. Also please retweet our tweets so that others can also see what we are posting.

Countdown to open meeting - 2 days to go!

With only 2 days to go until the open meeting is held, preparations are underway to ensure that all goes smoothly on Sunday. There still is time to pass the word around so that anyone who might be interested in retaining the Red Lion is aware that the meeting is open to all.

We decided to hold this meeting at the pub itself as it seemed the most appropriate venue to discuss how to retain it as an asset for the community. Let's hope that the skittle alley can accomodate us all! It won't do the pub's takings any harm either if there is a good turnout on Sunday.

Please come with your neighbour, friend, spouse, partner or even tun up solo. Remember to bring a pen with you as we are sure that there will be a form or two that you will be asked to fill out. We want Sunday to be the start of making sure that the Red Lion is at the heart of the village.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

In case you are trying to follow us on Twitter

For some reason Twitter have again suspended our account. Really not sure why other than we are trying to get people that we follow to re-tweet us. Hopefully this is just a temporary gliche, so please bear with us. If you need to make contact you can alternatively do so via our Facebook page

or directly by email

Exeter Express & Echo break the story first!

Today's Exeter Express & Echo newspaper is the first to break the story about the move to create a campaign to retain the Red Lion. With a photograph of the pub full square within the piece, the paper reports about Punch Taverns placing the Red Lion up for sale & the potential  implications for the future of it, not only for those who use it, but also the landlord.

The Express & Echo gives full details of the open meeting being held on Sunday 19 May & the reasons why it has been called. The paper also prints the various social media sites that can be accessed to keep up to date with the moves to create a campaign.

For the full Express & Echo story go to

We await with interest to see what tomorrow's Sidmouth Herald says in its report on the story.

Countdown to open meeting - 3 days to go!

What started off a  few weeks ago as a few friends having a drink in the Red Lion & discussing their concerns about whether there would be a pub in the heart of the village for munch longer is starting to snowball!

Interest in the future of the Red Lion gathers a pace each day. In response to calling the open meeting on Sunday 19 May -  12.30pm in the pub's skittle alley - a number of notable locals have been in touch recognising the worth of a village pub and wanting to be kept in touch with developments. Interest is stirring amongst local Councillors and perhaps soon our local MP Hugo Swire will recognise a local issue in the making.

Posters advertising the meeting are up in the village and a few have also made it to the shop windows in Sidmouth. We welcome anyone printing off the poster & displaying it prominently! It's still not too late to do so

In support of local press interest in the forthcoming meeting  a dozen concerned local residents yesterday braved the weather & posed to have their photograph taken outside the pub by a local newspaper. A picture is worth a thousand words!

We are now in our final push to encourage as many peolpe who have concerns about retaining the Red Lion to come along and support the beginning of  a campaign. We want to fill the skittle alley to bursting! So, don't just leave it to that illusive someone else to be part of the campaign, come along & show your support.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

So much goes on in Sidbury

By viewing this blog most will no doubt have an interest in Sidbury village, as well as its pub, the Red Lion. To have a look at what is going on in Sidbury over the next 3 weeks go to the  information packed village website at

In the village over the next few weeks you can take part in, or just relax and watch, games of rounders. Additionally, you can support the village cricket team as they play their next few matches. All of these pre-supposes that the weather will return to something like Spring! You can even support a local coffee morning in aid of the Children's Society - volunteers will be supplying refreshments, so show them and the charity your support! There's even a social evening.

If all of this isn't enough to show what a busy set of lives Sidbury villagers have, then the village website can show you all of the local societies and clubs, along with information about who to contact, and how to do so, should you be tempted to get involved in something locally. Go on give something new a try!

The village website (many thanks!) also has listed this Sunday's open meeting for local residents which has been called to discuss setting up a campaign group and a steering group to take steps to retain the Red Lion as an asset for the community. To remind you - the meeting is on  Sunday 19 May at 12.30pm in the pub's skittle alley. Come one, come all!

If you have yet to print off and display the poster - please do! -advertising the open meeting you can access it by following this link

Monday, 13 May 2013

Red Lion's owners Punch Taverns face defaulting on debt

Punch Taverns, which owns the Red Lion and 4,000 other pubs (1 in 10 of all pubs around the country) has been struggling for some while now under crippling debt. According to the Mail on Sunday and the Publican's Morning Advertiser (pub trade paper) there is now the possibility of the pub group defaulting on its debt repayments and going into administration, thus potentially leading to the break up of the company.

Punch Tavens carries £2.4bn of debt and according to the press reporting negotiations between Punch Taverns and its debt holders are approaching stalemate. Punch Taverns is understood to want to reach an agreement with them by the end of June or the company could default on its payments. This could lead to a process in which a receiver would be appointed who could chose to sell or close pubs to pay back the debt. Punch Taverns recorded a £16.7m pre-tax loss for the six months up to the end of March. As a sign of its problems Punch Taverns Chief Executive left in February.

Alternatively, the company could be forced to agree a pre-pack,which is a form of agreed insolvency, in which the company would be declared bust and its assets (including its pubs) transferred to new owners in a single step.

All in all, the signs for Punch Taverns, which have not been good for some time now, look pretty dire. This can only add to the pressure on Punch Taverns to sell or close those pubs, like the Red Lion, that they have already put up for sale. This demonstrates that there is no time to lose to start to campign to ensure that under some form of ownership, that looks increasingly clear not to be Punch Taverns, the Red Lion is retained as the pub in the village.

The links to the articles in the Daily Mail and the Publican's Morning Advertiser can be found -

Saturday, 11 May 2013

A discussion paper for those concerned to retain the Red Lion

This paper (link below) looks at possible options for retaining, & campaigning to retain, the Red Lion, should a potential owner who wants to retain it as a pub, not materialise. This discussion paper is offered to create discussion amongst those who are passionate about the need for Sidbury to continue to have its own pub in the heart of the village.

This discussion paper looks at what steps residents could take to keep the Red Lion as a pub. It also considers some alternative ownership models should a buyer, or a consortium of buyers, not come forward to seek to run the Red Lion as a viable pub business. Finally, the paper looks at steps that could be taken to campaign to retain the Red Lion as a pub - the first step being an open meeting (19 May) to try to establish a steering group to build a campaign.

This paper does not profess to identify all of the issues, or all of the options, or all of the steps for campaigning. It is designed to ignite debate amongst those who care about retaining the Red Lion in the heart of the village. Please read & if it interests you print it off & share it with your friends.

If it ignites your interest, then come to the open meeting - 19 May at 12.30pm in the skittle alley, Red Lion.

Poster For Open Meeting - 19 May

Please download & print the poster advertising the open meeting being held on 19 May to start to discuss how we can campaign to retain the Red Lion as the pub in Sidbury. Please put the poster up in a prominent position

Thursday, 9 May 2013

An open meeting to set up a campaign steering group

An Open Meeting - Sunday 19 May - Skittle Alley, Red Lion

As a first step in creating a campaign to retain the Red Lion as the pub in the heart of the village a meeting open to all who want to see it remain as the village pub is being held on 19 May at 12.30pm in the skittle alley at the Red Lion. The meeting is open to anyone who is concerned that they may lose the Red Lion as the village pub.

It is hoped that out of this meeting there can be a steering group formed to start to consider what needs to be done to ensure that the pub is actually retained as a pub, and that it does not get sold and a change of use application pursued by any new owner.

It is also hoped that a steering group can also look at various alternative ownership models that could be considered if the pub does not find a buyer who is able/willing to turn it into a thriving village pub. Over the next day or so a discussion paper on various options that could be considered will be posted here.

So, if you have any interest at all in retaining the Red Lion as Sidbury's village pub come along and have your say. Your ideas about what we can do to retain the Red Lion will be most welcome.

Please tell anyone who you think might be intersted in this open meeting - and come along yourself!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


It looks as if the comment boxes on the site are now working.


Having encouraged visitors to this site to leave messages it is now clear that we have a problem! For some reason the site is not allowing comments to be posted in a straight forward way.

As you would expect from a site of this quality we have an army of highly experienced techie geeks beavering away night & day to fix this glich. Ok, so that was a slight over statement of the reality! Steps are being taken to try to understand what we have done, presumably to the site's settings, that has caused this problem. Rest assured we are trying to figure out how to make this site interactive. So apologies.

If you do want to leave any comments then please use the email account -