April 16, 2020 by Swansea Camra
Donough Shanahan was elected in 2019 with no candidates standing.
2019 was my first in the role of Branch Chairman. I thank all branch members for your support and encouragement that you have given me during the year. Below I briefly discuss the key points from the year.
This was also the first year for our branch festival organisers, Chris Freestone and Aaron Brown. I would like to thank them for their efforts, along with the organising committee. The festival was a success with an estimated attendance of 2,200 and generated a healthy surplus.
The net number of pubs closing in the branch during 2019, has decreased. However the general decline continues. The lack of a strategy for pub preservation in Wales is an issue, with several pubs in our branch area having been closed with little to no consultation from the council.
To that end, led by volunteers in Neath and Port Talbot (John Skinner and John Hopkins et. al.), letters to A.M.’s and M.P.’s have been written. The representatives have been urged to support an initiative called “assets of community value”. Despite continued verbal support from representatives, this legislation, active in England and Scotland, has not been adopted. Wales CAMRA is currently setting up a plan to highlight the issue, though volunteers will be needed.
Membership sits at around the 800 across the branch and sub-branch. This number has remained fairly consistent over the last number of years. The branch has made use of the CAMRA coms tools for sending out emails and I will be asking Mike Steele if this system is suitable for continued use. Our local system, CAMRA announce, is still accessible to members who are signed up to its service.
Close to 200 pub edits or surveys were completed in 2019 to assist in keeping WhatPub and our pub database up to date, a task well-managed by Stewart Pinching. I would ask all branch members to aim at completing one Whatpub update form a month. Even a report with “no change” allows the entry to be updated.
Our branch website, which has been managed by Kay Byrne, remains informative but if we are going to keep it vibrant, we will need input from a wider range of contributors. I urge all branch members to submit articles for inclusion. Kay will be stepping down and I would like to thank her for her years of support.
There has been much discussion with regard to the pub of the year process. It is noted that each branch can have its own rules, and indeed the rules between Swansea and Neath/Port Talbot vary. A motion has been submitted to review the process at the AGM, and this will also be highlighted at Wales regional meetings at the next opportunity. The post for the POTY organiser remains vacant. The post for the good beer guide organiser also remains vacant.
There also has been discussion regarding cider. Early in 2019, it was indicated that the rules on “real” cider would be reviewed and this lead to the “break-up” of CAMRA’s Apple committee. This committee was extremely small but given its limitations, probably did reasonably represent what the consumer thought of real cider. Unfortunately as of the 23rd of Feburary, pubs that sell pasteurised cider should not have the real cider logo, both for the GBG and Whatpub. A large proportion of bag in box ciders, including Gwent-y-Ddraig and Hallett’s are pasteurised. As these are the most typical products in our branch, this would potentially leave few “real” cider pubs in the branch, if any. No changes have been made to date and the branch awaits further clarification.
The Branch is in good financial order due to the diligent work of Alan Watkins, our Treasurer.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you who have volunteered during 2019. There is currently a shortfall of volunteers for several positions as some longstanding volunteers decide to step down.
Futher branch festival will feature heavily in the coming year, depending on COVID19, but I would also like support to be given to ideas raised at meetings. These have included local area walkabouts and maps, social trips and pub protection.