Beer Blog

CAMRA – Shaping the future in Leeds?

RVM posterI went along to a CAMRA Shaping the Future consultation event in Leeds last weekend and very worth while it was too. I very much enjoyed the stimulating discourse and the opportunity to hear other peoples views on the issues.

What surprised me was the turn out. Okay, the room was quite full, but at my reckoning there were only about thirty people present, which is a bit disappointing for a meeting at the heart of the largest county, in the third largest city in the UK.

As the meeting went on Chief executive Tim Page outlined the process, what’s happened, what comes next and the like. The results of the stage 1 consultation  were presented, again something which surprised me very much. In fact I was gob smacked to learn that only 16,000 out of close on 180,000 CAMRA members had been bothered to make their opinions known. Not forgetting the additional 6,000 dinosaurs who have sent paper returns in and cost the organisation a fortune to manually process them. Mind you, I could write what I want about them because they’ll never see it unless someone prints it off for them! A quick calculation tells me the total return is roughly 12% of the national membership, which is woeful.  Yet despite all this, I hear loads of people banging on about what should or shouldn’t happen.

RVM Tim

CAMRA Chief executive Tim Page

When you start to look at the number of people who say they have never been actively engaged in CAMRA activities, 25% at the Leeds meeting, then it’s clear that a substantial part of the membership is represented by Christmas presents and Father’s/Mother’s day membership purchases!

What? You sure? All 180,000 members are totally committed and dedicated, in at least some small way? Well if that’s the case then they need to get off their arses and make themselves heard, don’t they.

RVM Entrance

A centre for the arts, in a redundant brewery HQ

Now I don’t want to see drastic changes to CAMRA, far from it, maybe a few tweaks, embrace diverse beer styles (and other drink types) solely through the strategic aim of promoting the pub, yet retain fully all the key aims at the very heart of CAMRA.

Thing is, it’s not people like me who will make a difference, it’s the rank and file membership who can’t afford to be silent and who need to tell people what they think. There is still plenty of opportunity to do this, the survey is still open on the CAMRA Shaping the Future web site and there are plenty more consultation events.

If we don’t do something then a brilliant organisation may end up like the once thriving brewery where the Leeds meeting was held. The remnants of Joshua Tetley’s ivory tower, stranded in the middle of a car park that will eventually become transformed into god only knows (that’s apartments then) by the developers cheque book.

RVM car park

Tetley’s Brewery, Leeds – June 2016

2 replies »

  1. A good read that. I think you assess the lack of interest correctly – it reflects the gift membership/Wetherspoons vouchers component of membership. National Trust membership has similar characteristics.

    I’ve responded to the consultation (I’m broadly “leave as is but don’t slag off craft”) and will be attending an event. Bluntly any more than 30 attendees and you won’t get a word in anyway.

    I think that even among those who do get involved in CAMRA, motives are very varied. Some like beer festivals and ticking, some like the social side, some like meetings, some like me think the branch structure is essential for maintaining the Good Beer Guide and What Pub, which I see closest to CAMRA’s main purpose.

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair RM, I was more than satisfied with the way the discussion went. Although people had varying viewpoints everyone acquitted themselves honourably and everyone was allowed to speak and be heard. My big worry is the distillation process will end in fractionation: Real ale, Cider & perries, Good beer (of whatever type).

      Liked by 1 person

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