Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The following letter was sent by the Town Clerk of Lewes Town Council to Greene King on October 12th, 2006

Mr Rooney Anand/Chief Executive
Greene King, Abbot House,

Dear Mr Anand:

LEWES ARMS, Mount Place, Lewes, East Sussex – “Lewes Arms Bitter”

It has come to the Council’s attention that your company has recently introduced a new beer at the Lewes Arms, branded “Lewes Arms Bitter” and dispensed via a pump prominently displaying the town’s Armorial Bearings. You may be unaware that use of these arms is exclusive to Lewes Town Council, as granted by the Crown in 1634 and based upon a seal which was, even then, described as being“..of great antiquity”. Whilst I am sure your company is conversant with the law relating to trade-marks and similar intellectual property, you may not appreciate that the town’s armorial bearings are treated as such and may not be used in this manner. I must insist that you cease use of the arms in commercial branding of your product, and that all such display material is removed immediately.

We appreciate that some may consider this action to be parochial (in the literal sense) but; as the ancient County Town of Sussex, Lewes holds its heritage very dear and the Council maintains its traditional and ceremonial role alongside its more modern responsibilities. To this end it continues customs such as the wearing of robes and regalia at its meetings; its display of arms and the town’s Mace on civic occasions etc. and it will strongly defend its rights in law. The precedent is Manchester Corporation v Manchester Palace of Varieties (1954) where the theatre was successfully sued for illegal display of the Corporation’s arms.

The Council considered this matter when discussing the recent local outcry over your company’s proposed removal from the Lewes Arms of the locally-brewed, and award-winning, Harvey’s bitter. Harvey’s brewery is a landmark in both Lewes’ architectural heritage and its culture, and is considered to be an historic and integral part of the fabric of the community. It is a major building in the townscape, and a significant local employer. Its management are renowned for their altruism and generosity in supporting the community at many levels, and their products are extremely popular and commercially successful.

Lewes itself is well-known nationally for its celebration of individuality and takes great pride in such things as the recognition by the Times newspaper, in 2004, of the wealth of independent small businesses in the town. Councillors expressed consternation at the “deplorable” proposal to remove a popular and presumably profitable local brew which has long-featured as a guest beer, made more piquant by the statement on your company’s website by your own Managing Director, Mr David Elliott, that: “..we have strong relationships with drinks suppliers across the UK...making the offer at your bar the right one.”

Your Marketing Director, Fiona Hope, is quoted as saying at a recent campaign launch that: “The pub and the pint are great institutions that play a positive role in millions of people’s lives...” and “..[the campaign] gives pub-goers a communal voice in support of great pubs and great beer”. Ms Hope goes on to refer to the millions of people “who care about their local” and as the elected representative of a sizeable number of those people, this Council considers it has a responsibility to press you to change your policy in this matter.

I trust you find this to be fair and reasonable, and if you wish to discuss any aspect, please let me know.

Yours sincerely

Steve Brigden/Town Clerk


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