As many readers may have heard, the recent purchase of the Constitution pub by Young & Cos Brewery PLC did not go down so well with the locals when they read the article published on the front page of the Camden New Journal of 7 February.
There are several claims and counter claims from all sides over the way in which the takeover was handled and as to whether hour’s, day’s or month’s termination notice was given to the staff. A lot of smoke and mirrors. I have great sympathy for the staff of the Constitution who lost their jobs, and feel for them. I wish them well and hope they can quickly and effectively find secure alternative employment and accommodation where necessary.
Admittedly, this is a damning article and although Young’s have had many successes in the past, this particular event doesn’t put Young’s in a good light and I’ve heard several comments from locals along the lines of ‘we won’t drink there anymore’, or ‘let’s boycott the pubs’. Understandable under the circumstances one would presume but wait . . . If we just go down the road of boycotting pubs, whether individually, by area, or by pub chain then we actively speed up the possibility of making pubs unviable, which could hasten turning them over to flats, shops and other usage. In the circumstances, we need to be building bridges, not walls, and adopt a more positive approach.
What we should be doing surely is actively using pubs more, not less, so as to make them more viable and real centres of the community infrastructure; a treasured asset and not a loss-making liability.
It should also be stressed that the basement bar at the Constitution has long been a popular main hub of music and comedy nights in the Camden area, and as so many of these outlets have been lost in the past it is important to the community that these facilities are preserved because it is well known that Camden and music were made for each other!
The planned renovation of the Constitution is estimated to take five to six months, and for now the ball is in Young’s court to perform a sympathetic renovation and to prove themselves to the local community as worthy proprietors of the new Constitution. The onus will then be on the local community to give the Constitution a fair chance and at least try the new pub when it reopens. Together let us keep great pubs, serving great real ales alive.
Chairman – CAMRA North London Branch
Editor’s note: Young’s have offered the acts that regularly performed at the Constitution space at another of their pubs nearby. As we go to press, the pub has been occupied by squatters. Young’s are taking the appropriate legal action and say that the reopening will not be delayed.