Bridget Chapman started up the campaign to save the George IV pub. Here she explains why the campaign is so important
Pubs aren’t just pubs. They’re spaces for a community to meet in, venues for celebrations and commiserations, places for the lonely to find company. They are the genuine Big Society. The George IV (known more recently as Music Bar) was not ‘just’ a pub. It was a live music venue, a theatre space, hosted a radio station and recording studio, was an art gallery, one of the few places locally playing reggae music, and it put on special events for local young people – vital when there’s so little for them to do in the area. Losing it as a pub would be a disaster. Losing it to become a Tesco even more so.
Why do I say that? Well, most importantly, once it becomes a Tesco, we’ve lost that precious community space. Forever. And it’s not the only one we will have lost. This comprehensive list from the urban 75 website details many of the pubs our community has lost over the years. Names like Branksome Arms, Duke of Wellington, Red Lion, Royal Oak, Wagon and Horses, Two Woodcocks – just some of the names that have already disappeared from the SW2 postcode, in which the George IV sits.
A Tesco Express also threatens the community in other ways. At the recent People’s Question Time event, hosted by local MP, Chuka Umunna, a local shopkeeper stood up and told the audience that his shop had been badly affected by last year’s riots. His shop had been invaded, badly damaged, stock was stolen, and he had been physically threatened. But none of that, he said, had damaged his business as much as a Sainsbury’s Local store opening up nearby.
I live on Brixton Hill, and within 5 minutes walk of my home I have already two Sainsbury’s and one Tesco. Enough is enough. We need to protect the character of the hill, and defend local businesses. According to the paper “Plugging the Leaks” (published by the New Economics Foundation), research shows that 80% of money spent in a local business stays in the community, while 80% of money spent in a chain leaves the local economy. Another Tesco means that we not only lose a valuable community space but that local businesses are negatively affected, and the local economy is weakened. This page on the excellent TotallyLocal website explains it nicely.
The earliest record of the George IV pub is on this 1864 map (look to the right of the waterworks). That means it’s been there, in one form or another, for nearly 150 years and is a key part of local history. Let’s not lose it now!
Bridget Chapman, Save George IV Campaign
What can you do to help? Most importantly and urgently you can object to Tesco’s latest planning applications, and information on how to do that is here: http://www.brixtonblog.com/george-iv-campaign-how-to-object-to-new-planning-applications/8081
Follow @SaveGeorgeIV on Twitter and ‘like’ our Facebook page for more information and to be kept informed. http://www.facebook.com/StopTescoSaveGeorgeIV#!/StopTescoSaveGeorgeIV?fref=ts