The decision of the Taunton Deane Planning Committee to defer a ruling on the Rose & Crown for six months plunges us into a further period of uncertainty, both with regard to the future of the Rose & Crown, and to that of the Royal Oak. Had the committee opposed the COU, we would have rejoiced in the survival of the Rose & Crown, and whether or not the village decided to proceed with a community pub based on the Oak, we would have done so knowing that there was at least one other pub in the village. Had they approved the COU, it would have focussed minds on ensuring that at least the Oak survived. As it is, we are as uncertain now as we were before the meeting.
When filling in the pub section of the Community Shop/Pub survey therefore, we are asking people to make the assumption that the Oak might be the only option. For now we need to know how much support a community pub would have in this case. Supporting a community pub is not an alternative to supporting the survival of the Rose & Crown. Ideally we would have both (serving slightly different needs) but what we want to avoid at all costs is having no pubs left in a year’s time.
One point worth bearing in mind is that while a privately owned pub will always be more or less vulnerable to commercial pressures of one sort or another, a community pub, once in existence, should have an assured future, since it would be owned by the community, and would require the agreement of the community to close. At a time when about 29 commercial pubs are estimated to be closing every week nationwide, all of the 52 community pubs set up over the last 10 years or so are thriving.