The Rushlake Green Pub Protection Society has recently published a report based on the findings of its Community Survey. The society was formed when the Horse & Groom was up for sale, and its future uncertain. A survey was created to gauge local feelings about the pub and its future.
By the time the survey was completed, the Horse & Groom had been sold as a going concern and the new owners had declared a determination to run the place as a successful pub. So the immediate need for a community solution was no longer there.
However the questions and responses relating to a community purchase are an important litmus test of local opinion, should there ever be a need in the future for community action. The response to the survey was very strong, with more than one hundred predominantly local residents contributing their views. The report has already been shared with those who took part and provided contact details, and the report conclusions have also been picked up by the Sussex Express (29/10/21).
At the end of this article is a link, enabling you to download a PDF copy of the full Community Survey Report.
Here is a precis of some of the survey’s main observations and conclusions:
The survey clearly confirms the huge amount of support for a pub in Rushlake Green. 90% of those who responded to the survey said having a pub was “very important”, and the remaining 10% still agreed it was “important”.
But the report also discusses the ‘fracturing of trust and enthusiasm’ relating to the pub, as it is today. And even though there are indications that locals want to return to using the Horse & Groom many are, for various reasons, still not doing so. For some, mindful of increasing levels Covid in the population, this may be a very reasonable excess of caution. For some others, it may be that they have simply lost the habit of going out. However the survey also detects an underlying sense of unease with the way the pub is presenting itself. “Local customers need to feel once more that they are valued, respected and will be well treated. It’s simply customer service thing.”
The ‘elephant in the room’, that the survey was not able to shed light on, was the question of whether (or not) the new owners genuinely want to re-invigorate the Horse & Groom as a popular and well frequented local pub, with a reputation that attracts customers from miles around. A widespread concern (also expressed by many Village Leaf readers) is that the purchase of the H&G could be nothing more than an astute property investment. If the pub continues to lose trade, and can be claimed to be impossible to run at a viable level, the scene could be set for a future planning application for change use to residential – along the lines achieved by the owners of the Black Duck, Three Cups and Barley Mow respectively. It is to be hoped that the new owners of the Horse & Groom will soon begin to prove this theory wrong by taking some practical steps to reverse the declining attractiveness of the pub.
We agree with the Survey Report that, for local residents, the challenge now is twofold: Firstly we need to do all we can to support the regeneration of the Horse & Groom. This can be done by voting with our feet but also by giving honest and constructive feedback to the H&G team and the new owners; encouraging them to transform the pub back into a welcoming place. And the RGPPS have already shared their report with the new owners as the basis for a dialogue about how the community can support the efforts to regain local trust and loyalty.
But the final point made by the Survey Report is that we as a community still need to be ready to support a Community Ownership option if that ever becomes the only way to retain a pub in the village. This survey has shown all those concerned that there would be strong support for such action should it be required. And the Rushlake Green Pub Protection Society appears well placed, and widely supported, to lead whatever community action is necessary to help ensure the Horse & Groom’s future.
If you would like to contact the Rushlake Green Pub Protection Society their email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download a copy of the RGPPS Community Survey Report CLICK HERE