At the heart of our villages....
Last week I was at a well attended public meeting about the Tree pub in Stapleford that a committed group of residents are seeking to buy and run as a community pub rather than see it sold off for development. I was very pleased to hear the work that local councillors Ben Shelton and Charlie Nightingale are doing to help the group, and by the business sense of the group itself.
We have to be realistic - not all pubs are viable, and the Wheatsheaf at Duxford is now a thriving deli and coffee shop - but so many villages in South Cambridgeshire have a thriving pub at their heart, and not just for enjoying a drink. Last week I was in the Plough at Duxford and saw the village allotment group having their annual meeting at a long table there. And these were not people with baling twine holding up their trousers - check out their website. Another evening the committee that is organising Newton's famous annual pantomime was busy in the Queens Head. I just avoided getting roped in. In Foxton last Monday the parish council assembled to share a drink and some stories with their hard-working chair, Ron McCreery, as a number of the councillors are standing down this year. I recall one hot fly-buzzing August afternoon the Bees at Whittlesford was the venue for a meeting between the police, residents and farmers to find a solution to traffic problems at harvest time.
This isn't nostalgia - pubs are diversifying - providing food that meets the expectations of South Cambridgeshire, either as gastro-pubs or by trendy pop-up street food, Lebanese one week, Spanish the next.
It is a key element of the identity of our villages - and helps keeps them separate and distinct. Just as we need to plan for the future, we need to hold on to and carry forward our heritage.