Last Orders for Crown Al Fresco Fun?

Summer is well upon us now, and the humidity leads to shorter temper than usual as one tries to traverse the tramworks. As the excavations move up towards town, Chilwell Road becomes easier to access but to the pedestrian, it’s like Shackleton seeking out the North West Passage.

Even the Crown is suffering. Despite being a major summer draw to thirsty Beestonians, they still feel the hit of lack of access. The White Lion and Star both have frustrating access issues, and are excluded from the greater part of financial assistance as both businesses are relatively new.

You’d think that the Council would throw their weight behind what is rapidly becoming one of the strongest elements of Beeston’s economy. I’ve been to many meetings at the Town Hall to discuss how to improve Beeston’s nighttime/leisure economy and posited suggestions, some taken up, others still lingering on the Broxtowe back-burner. As our town now has a fantastic reputation for pubs, surely these should be cherished, supported and, if needs must, used by the council.

I often find myself drinking with our local representatives. Cllr Kerry is a fan of The Hop Pole. The Lallys like The Last Post. Cllr Marshall rarely fails to rally a team for the Crown pub quiz. Cllr Carr is no stranger to the odd glass of red wine. Cllr Barber makes it his mission as a Beestonian politician to ensure regular attendance at every pub in town: true dedication.

So it seems that I can count on their support when I mention a bit of daftness I heard today. The Crown has, for the past few years of being a Good Pub, held a hugely popular summer festival, bringing in local bands and local food sellers each weekend, with great success. Swarms of drinkers, foodies and music lovers descend, and to accommodate them all a temporary marquee is put up to counter the pluvial vagaries of the British Summer: if it rains, you can still relish the al-fresco.

It’s an unassuming structure, detracting little from the building, and leaving no scars when packed away in autumn. But they’ve had a letter from the council this week that thinks differently. The structure, through Broxtowe’s eyes, contravenes certain planning laws applied to listed buildings, of which the Crown is one. They have been given a few days to take it down. Oh dear.

I’ll declare an interest. I do drink down the Crown on occasion, and they do stick an ad in the Beestonian each month. We also use it for the Oxjam Festival, it’s a key venue in the day for music, and we make a fair bit of money using the beer garden as a wristband exchange and loose-change beggar. As anyone who attended last year will remember, we were blessed with great weather until the last act, where the heavens opened and torrential rain bucketed down for five minutes. Luckily, they had shelter, and watched from the dry comforts of the marquee.

All the same, I implore the council to have a rethink and show a bit of discretion here. I know rules exist for a reason, but to so stridently enforce them in ways that will only prove counter-productive in the end is daft, and makes the Council look like a bunch of joyless pen-pushers, which they really aren’t.

If you aren’t happy with this situation, please write to your local councillor right now and ask them to stand up for The Crown, and all pubs that have a difficult job, but a vital role, in the town’s future.

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