Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The Mail on Sunday commissioned Rusell (pictured left) to take some shots for their news story (see below), which, as it turned out, were not used. [We are currently trying to get hold of those images and may be able to make some available as prints] Fortunately Alex Leith from Viva Lewes was also on hand and took these behind-the-scenes pics of a number of the regulars who were able to come down on a weekday lunchtime.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Sunday, October 29, 2006

NATIONAL PRESS 2; Mail on Sunday

Brewery Loses Medieval Joust
by Simon Fluendy
Financial Mail/Mail on Sunday/29th Oct 2006

It started over the pints served in a popular local pub. Now the row between the ale drinkers of Lewes and brewery giant Greene King is being hailed as a classic case of a local community taking on a national chain - and winning.

The salvation of the proud burghers of the county town of East Sussex turned out to be medieval laws and the little-known Court of Chivalry founded in the 14th century.

Greene King likes to see itself as a defender of local ales and it boasts of a 200-year heritage.

Drinkers in Lewes, backed by their Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, clashed with the £1 billion FTSE 250 company after one of the town's pubs, the Lewes Arms, owned by Greene King, kicked out the locally brewed Harveys beer and introduced its own 'local' brew called Lewes Arms.

Mayor Merlin Milner said: 'Lewes has kept its character while many other towns have lost their own. Anything that erodes that feeling of difference is bound to be resisted.'

A boycott and a petition failed to shift the brewing group, but then the town clerk Steve Brigden found that the company's use of the Lewes town's coat of arms on the beer's labelling was a potential offence in the eyes of the ancient Court of Chivalry.

This court, convened under the Duke of Norfolk, last ruled in 1954 when Manchester Corporation used it to stop a local variety theatre using the city's arms. Brigden challenged Greene King, claiming it had no right to user the coat of arms and threatening to drag it before the court.

Greene King backed down and dropped the Lewes Arms beer - allegedly for 'commercial reasons.' The rival beer, however, remains banned from the pub.

Lewes is famous for Bonfire Night celebrations in which unpopular characters are burned in effigy. Local sources suggest that Greene King chief executive Rooney Annand may feature next weekend.

*** The most significant error in this story is that Harveys has not yet been banned. The main aim our campaign is to try and persuade Greene King to change their minds on the matter.
We are still collecting signatures for our petition and have not yet instituted a boycott. It is unlikely that Mr Annand will be burnt
in effigy.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Photo: John May. See more pictures of Lewes at Lewes Light

"The Lewes Arms
is the sort of place where radical thought
continues to this day."

- Bill Inman, marketing director of Harveys

Bonfire plot brews after locals lose favourite ale

By Jenny Wiggins

Fionancial Times/October 28 2006

The effigies burned on bonfire night in the Sussex town of Lewes - once home to radical thinker Thomas Paine - have never conformed to tradition. Figures of US President George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden have been set alight alongside traditional bonfire villains such as Guy Fawkes and the Pope of 1605 in the town's feisty annual celebration of the gunpowder plot.

But it appears that corporations rather than politicians are facing ordeal by fire this year as angry residents protest at the removal of their favourite ale, Harveys Best Bitter, from the local pub.

The pub retailer and brewer Greene King, owner of the Lewes Arms, is the alleged villain of this very British piece. Greene King has sold Harveys, a local brew made by a family-run company, in the Lewes Arms together with its own ales since buying the pub in 1998. But it plans to withdraw the ale by the end of the year and replace it with one of its own cask beers and "guest ales" produced by other brewers. Harveys is not on its guest ale list.

Locals who have been drinking Harveys for decades are furious, and are considering burning an effigy intended to represent Greene King on bonfire night. They associate Harveys with the strong community spirit that characterises the pub - exemplified by the esoteric range of activities it hosts such as the Annual World Pea-Throwing Championship. John May, a local and member of the Friends of the Lewes Arms group, says: "If there's no Harveys, the vast majority of people will leave the pub."

The residents' campaign has attracted the support of the Campaign for Real Ale, which promotes beer brewed using traditional ingredients and left to mature in the cask - as well as the backing of Norman Baker, Lewes's Liberal Democrat MP.

Greene King says that it is keen to support its own cask beers, of which it produces more than 20 a year."The fact that we no longer sell Harveys Old has had no detrimental effect on the Lewes Arms in general or the sales of cask beer in particular," the company says. "The customers who opposed the move in the first instance seem now to be more than happy with our great choice of beers."

Harveys Brewery is somewhat more sanguine than the town's residents about the disappearance of Harveys bitter. Bill Inman, its marketing manager, says that Greene King, as the owner of the Lewes Arms, has "every right" to sell its own beer. But he is unsure whether the pub will be able to survive without it.

Harveys sells 35,000 to 40,000 pints of its ale at the Lewes Arms every year - 10 times the amount it typically sells at other pubs. [see footnote]

Mr Inman attributes the residents' campaign to keep the ale to the town's history of non-conformism. He adds: "The Lewes Arms is the sort of place where radical thought continues to this day."

FOOTNOTE: Tom, who did a fine job of looking after the cellar of the Lewes Arms, informs us that they were ordering 10 or more barrels a week, each of which hold 144pts, which makes an annual total of just under 75,000 pints.

PRESS REACTIONS: The Argus/Sussex Express

Battle over brew turns into revolt
by Andy Chiles
The Argus/27.10.06

A pub's regulars have been told they will have to go elsewhere if they want locally-brewed ale.

Suffolk-based brewery Greene King has told drinkers at the Lewes Arms, in Mount Place, Lewes, it will not be going back on its plans to stop selling Harvyes Best Bitter, despite threats of a boycott.

Greene King operations director Kris Gumbrell said: 'We are committed to this decision and we're going forward with it."

Regulars were up in arms when they found out Harveys would cease to be sold after Christmas. It's the pub's best-selling ale but Greene King, which runs the pub, wants to get rid of it because it is made by Lewes-based rival brewer Harveys.

Fifty drinkers gathered at the Lewes Arms earlier this month to consider how to fight the decision. They warned Greene King they would be willing to take their custom to another pub, where Harveys continues to be sold. Lewes MP Norman Baker and the town's council have both backed the campaign.

Mr Gumbrell said he was confident the pub would continue to be well used. He said: "It would be sad if we lost any of our customers. If they are not happy with the range we have available within the Lewes Arms they will go somewhere else. Only some of the customers want Harveys, not everybody."

He said it was unfortunate there would be more "beer miles" involved in transporting kegs to the pub from its Kent depot. Lewes Arms customers said they were disappointed. John May, a regular who has led the campaign, said he was still hopeful Greene King would change its mind. He has received a letter from the firm's managing director telling him it would continue to investigate the situation.

But another regular Andy Scott said: "I don't know what we'll do if they take Harveys away. I really like the atmosphere here but I would give serious thought to going elsewhere. We feel very strongly about it. Harveys is our local brewery and we want to support it. There is a strong possibility all the regulars could move to another pub together.

The Campaign for Real Ale has been fighting to support Britain's small breweries and said it was disappointed the actions of Greene King seemed to be counter-productive to its efforts.'

Peter Coppard, president of the Brighton and South Downs branch said: "There are a lot of people becoming increasingly unhappy with Greene King. We have always supported them but it is this kind of action which has created bad feeling against them."

Controversial beer is pulled
by John Eccles
Sussex Express/27.10.06

Brewer Greene King has decided to withdraw its new beer from the pumps at the Lewes Arms after less than a month in operation. The ale, called Lewes Arms, was introduced to take over from local brew Harveys.

Kris Gumbrell, Greene King operations director, said: "We will be removing the Lewes Arms Bitter following some feedback from customers and the local community."

Some 600 coustomers have signed a petition, calling for the pub to keep its Harveys. And the plot has again thickened.

Last week Mr Gumbrell said: "We stand by our original decision to remove Harveys ale from the Lewes Arms. This is a commercial decision which we have not taken lightly but understandfably, as a leading brewer, we want to showcase our own beers."

But this was followed by a personal letter from GK chief executive Rooney Anand stating that managing director Mark Angela would look further into the matter.

Lewes Arms customer John May said: "I shouldn't imagine they sold very much of their new beer. It's pleasing that Mr Angela is willing to investigate the situation."

Mr May has also written to the Suffolk brewer's asking for a 'gentlemen's compromise'. he said: 'Greene King should recognise the importance of the Lewes Arms to the town as genuine community pub.

'It should recognise that Harvey's Bitter is the preferred brew of the vast majority of the patrons and that removing it would severely damage the numerous community activities that the pub shelters, as the existing clientele would be dispersed as a result."

"Therefore it should be willing, in this specific instance, to continue to serve Harvey's Bitter as a genuine gesture to the community.'

Added Mr May: 'It might then be that Harveys would feel able to stock some Greene King products as a reciprocal gesture. Some form of amicable agreement between the gentlemen of the trade would reflect well on both companies and would save an outsnaing community pub.'

Bill Inman, Harveys marketing director said: 'Its a novel suggestion. We will certainly look at it but I can't comment on the outcome.'

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, believed to be the oldest pub in Great Britain, is one of 286 mainly rural pubs owned by Hardys & Hansons. The pub is literally carved into the sandstone under Nottingham castle.
Wikipedia claims that nineteen other pubs have also laid claim to being Britain's oldest]

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is urging beer lovers to support the campaign to keep the 174 year-old Hardy & Hanson's brewery in Kimberley, Nottinghamshire open. Despite a petition signed by thousands of H&H drinkers, Greene King have announced that brewing will cease by Christmas and be moved to Bury St Edmunds. Hardys brewery was formed in 1832 and Hansons was formed in 1847, both brewers merged in 1930 to become Hardys & Hansons brewery. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is urging beer lovers to support the campaign to keep the brewery open. Local CAMRA branch chairman Vince Rutland told the Nottingham Evening Post: "The closure is such a shame. Although Greene King say they will continue to produce this bitter elsewhere, beer is rarely the same once it moves home because the water and other factors are different." The local Civic Society is also supporting the campaign. When the sale was originally mooted earlier this year, Camra’s chief executive, Mike Benner told The Guardian: “Hardys & Hansons will be chewed up and spat out like so many before it.” In recent years, Greene King has slurped up a string of rivals including the 286-year-old brewer Belhaven, Laurel Pub Company and the Essex family brewer Ridley.

New GK signs at 735 pubs (Morning Advertiser): Greene King, the brewer and pub group, is undertaking a corporate branding exercise across its 735-strong managed house division. The company has upgraded exterior signage and fitted plaques inside its pub businesses to ensure they all carry the Greene King name. (The move coincides with a £1.2m prime-time television sponsorship deal. The company has put its name to ITV's primetime entertainment show 'Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'. Mark Angela, managing director of Greene King's managed arm, said that through investment projects, many of its pubs already carried the appropriate parent company logo, and that the exercise had meant replacing the swing signs and adding internal signs at "a few hundred" pubs. Now all managed houses operated by the group will carry the Greene King identity, including brands such as Hungry Horse, the value food offer. Angela added: "With the sponsorship deal it was important to ensure that consumers can make the connection between Greene King and the pubs we operate. Now all sites carry the Greene King name.

Greene King IPA has become the official beer of English rugby in the brewer's second major sponsorship deal of the autumn. Greene King snapped up the rugby sponsorship after Carlsberg UK decided not to extend a deal for Tetley's which had been in place since 1997. As part of the new four-year rugby deal, Greene King's pub estate will become the official supporters' pubs of English rugby, and promotions will run throughout the season and for all England games.

Read the story of a pub that Greene King tried to shut down: The Admiral in Clifton, Bedfordshire. The locals staged a vigorous campaign and managed to get a stay of execution. Full story on their website. [***Late breaking news by e-mail: 'In fact, (even later news than on our site) we have been totally successful - we even made a Sky news morning slot, to celebrate the signing of a 5-year tenancy agreement.]


Greene King News: Articles from around the world focusing on Greene King

[Worth visiting the "Save the Riser" blog to read about a campaign by customers of 'The Rising Sun' and local residents in Epsom. who are extremely concerned at the impact of imminent major changes to the nature of their Pub. They wish to persuade Young and Co, the new owners, that it is in their best interest to preserve the unique nature of our local.]

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Lewes MP Norman Baker pulling a pint
to celebrate the success of his campaign
to get Harvey's Best Bitter installed as a 'guest beer'
in the Stranger's Bar at the House of Commons.

Press Release from Norman Basker's office (26.10.06) : Lewes MP, Norman Baker, has this week served up his first pint of Harvey’s Best Bitter after a successful campaign to feature the local beer as a guest ale in the House of Commons bars.

This move coincides with Norman’s backing of the campaign to keep Harveys in the Lewes Arms in the wake of ongoing attempts of Greene King brewery to replace it with a re-branded version of its own ale. The local MP has now written to Greene King to request a meeting with senior representatives to call for an immediate review of the decision.

Norman, who is a member of the All Party Beer Group, has also added his backing to a number of parliamentary motions supporting English breweries including those calling for the extension of small breweries relief and asking the House of Commons authorities to stock more real ales in the parliamentary bars instead of imported lager.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Shortly after returning from the Rocket FM studio, we received the following letter from Greene King:

19th October 2006

Dear Mr May:

Thank you for your letter dated 18th October regarding the Lewes Arms. I note your comments and confirm that Mark Angela, Managing Director of Greene King's Pub Company, is currently investigating the matter and will respond to you in more detail in due course.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention

Yours sincerely

Rooney Annand
Chief Executive


Greene King refuses to think again
Monday 23rd October

Following an early morning discussion programme hosted by Dino Bishop on Rocket FM (the independent community radio station for Lewes, which broadcasts every year on 87.8Fm from 20th October to November 5th), the station issued the following press release:

Greene King this week refused to think again on ceasing to serve Harveys in the Lewes Arms. Interviewed this morning Greene King operations director Kris Gumbrell was asked if he was prepared to change his mind and let drinkers in the Lewes Arms keep their favourite tipple.

He told Rocket’s breakfast presenter Dino Bishop, “No. We are committed to this decision and we’re going forward with it. I think Harveys is a nice beer. But we are very proud of our own beers”.

Referring to the growing media interest in the campaign, led by Lewes Arms regulars, to keep Harveys, Dino Bishop asked if the issue was turning into a public relations disaster for the company. Mr Gumbrell responded, “No, I don’t think so. It demonstrates that people are still passionate about cask ale. The cask ale market is a tough business.”

He told listeners, “We’ve always prided ourselves on being able to give the customers what they want.” Pressed on how Greene King could square responding to their customers’ needs with their decision to withdraw the pub’s best selling drink, which outsells other beers stocked by four to one, Mr Gumbrell insisted, “Only some of the customers want Harveys. Not everybody in the pub drinks Harveys.”

Was Greene King fearful of losing custom from the Lewes Arms when Harveys goes? Said Mr Gumbrell, “It would be sad if we lost any of our customers … if they are not happy with the range we have got available within the Lewes Arms they will go somewhere else.”

Asked about research by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, that indicated 55% of respondents wanted to see at least one locally brewed beer in every pub, he responded ““People want a choice. That’s what the customers want but it’s not always easy to have a locally produced resident beer in place.”

Dino Bishop put across campaigners’ fears about how plans for investment would affect the Mount Place pub. “It’s about the pub and the beer doesn’t make the pub”, Mr Gumbrell recognised. He rejected rumours that out-of-keeping modernisation was planned. “We have no intention on changing the rule on mobile phones … we’re not going to make it a food driven business.”

Quizzed on the environmental impact of transporting Greene King beer from its brewery in Suffolk compared to the local brew, Mr Gumbrell revealed to listeners, “We don’t actually distribute to Lewes from Harveys, we actually distribute from our Kent depot. We try and do that as sensitively as we can.”

Following up on last week’s Sussex Express story about Greene King’s use of the town’s coat of arms on pump badges in the pub, the Rocket breakfast show presenter suggested that Greene King were being disingenuous in using the Lewes coat of arms on a beer brewed in Suffolk. “The coat of arms was purely there to represent the livery and we’ve certainly never had any problems or any representations from the council regarding the use of the pub sign”, responded Mr Gumbrell.

Asked if he had permission to use the coat of arms, the Greene King spokesman argued, “We’ve never sought to seek permission because actually when we researched this we couldn’t find that it was sole owned by them but we believe that we’ve used it fairly, because the beer is there to represent the pub not the area and the pub is liveried with the coat of arms of Lewes.”

Calling in to the programme, the Mayor of Lewes, Cllr Merlin Milner, said, “They should have done a bit of homework really.” He revealed to listeners that the Town Council had “received a letter from Greene King saying they had removed it for commercial reasons, which is a good cop-out. They didn’t want to get into legal wranglings.” He added: “We’ve written back again to still ask for an apology.”

Interviewed live in the Rocket studio, campaigner John May was asked for his reaction to the Greene King spokesman’s argument. He described his comments as “very predictable.”

“I’m glad that Mr Gumbrell wants to have a debate because this debate is going to go on and on. It’s going to become a much bigger issue nationally.”

The community radio station also interviewed Lewes MP Norman Baker on the issue. Said Mr Baker: “It’s a totemic thing … are we going to have the beer we want in a central pub in Lewes, or is the local brewery going to be pushed out by someone who’s coming in from a very long way away?”

Asked how Greene King responded to his discussions with them on the subject, he told listeners, “They were very touchy about it. They were clearly irritated by the whole thing and I would imagine that the reaction in Lewes was one that they hadn’t anticipated. I hope even at this stage that they’ll think again.”

Broadcaster Dino Bishop suggested it was time to bring in legislation along the lines of the ‘Guest Beer Right’ put forward by CAMRA – and that the MP could raise that in the House of Commons. “I’m certainly happy to raise that point”, said Mr Baker.

Speaking on behalf of those campaigning to keep Harveys, John May promised, “further action if Greene King proves to be completely intransigent on the issue.”

Monday, October 23, 2006


An supportive article from the eloquent pen of Tom Flynn, a non-Lewes resident who feels strongly enough about the issue to have posted the following on his excellent blog Artknows

Gloomy news reaches me that one of my favourite pubs — The Lewes Arms in Lewes, East Sussex (left) — is about to stop selling Harvey’s Sussex Bitter. This is one of the most depressing things I’ve heard in a long time. I’ve been drinking this award-winning stuff since I was seventeen and The Lewes Arms is one of the best places to imbibe it.

The crass decision to evict the local nectar was taken at corporate level by the Suffolk-based Greene King plc brewery chain, which owns the Lewes Arms licence. Once again it seems the egregious spreadsheet monkeys have got the upper hand.

You can get Harvey’s in many pubs in Lewes, but none can compare with The Lewes Arms.

In the same way that people refer to how certain bands provided ‘the soundtrack’ to their youth, Harvey’s bitter lubricated most of my beer-drinking adolescent years in Sussex. I’ve supped it everywhere from Hove to Hastings, and on rare heart-stopping moments have even discovered it as a guest ale at the Anglesey Arms in South Kensington, although with its signature zest not entirely unimpaired by the trauma of travel.

Sadly, over the past twenty-five years, many of the authentic Sussex hostelries that stocked this excellent hoppy brew have been transformed by the dead hand of corporate strategy into execrable family eateries or soulless lager laagers. This may well be the fate awaiting the Lewes Arms, but I hope not.

I wonder whether the Lewes locals have thought of pooling their resources and offering to buy the licence from Greene King in a sort of vernacular management buy-out? After all, The Generalist reliably informs that Harvey’s bitter outsells the Greene King ales by at least 3:1 at the Lewes Arms. This would make withdrawal of the brew akin to commercial suicide. Maybe the locals should let Greene King go ahead, take their custom elsewhere, and then when the Suffolk suits realise the error of their ways, offer to buy the licence back at a discount. If I’m missing some fundamental commercial logic here, please let me know.

But while I can understand the locals complaining, there are also thousands of people like me who don’t live in Lewes but for whom the Lewes Arms remains the pub of choice when in the area. If the Lewes Arms stops serving Harvey’s, I will have lost one of the main reasons for visiting the town. Lewes won’t care, but I will.



12.00.00am BST (GMT +0100) Mon 9th Oct 2006

Local Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has added his name to a petition campaigning to keep the local beer, Harveys, in the Lewes Arms following plans by the brewery to remove it from sale and raised the matter with Greene King at a meeting in London today [Monday].

Suffolk based brewery, Greene King, took over the Lewes Arms from Beards some years ago and now intend to replace the popular, award winning local beer, Harvey's, with their own ale, which has been re-branded with the name 'Lewes Arms'.

At a meeting in London today attended by both Norman Baker and senior management at Greene King, the local MP raised the matter, made it plain that the move to remove Harvey's was unpopular amongst locals and asked the brewery to reconsider their decision.

The Lewes Arms has been selling beer to residents of Lewes since the early eighteenth century. Harveys has this year alone won the Silver Award at CAMRA's 2006 Champion Beer of Britain competition and the Gold Award in the category for Best Bitter.

Commenting on Greene King's decision, Norman said: "I am surprised and disappointed that a brewery which claims to support local pubs and local communities is trying to remove the popular local beer from sale just to try and make a fast buck from selling more of their own. This is exactly the kind of poorly thought out business decision which is giving Greene King a bad reputation in the area.

“The Lewes Arms is a lovely traditional pub which serves up excellent local beer that is brewed only a few hundred yards away down the road. Harveys is far and away the most popular drink in the town so to not sell it is indefensible. I don't' see why Greene King can't just continue serving up Harvey's alongside their own ales."


20 October 2006

Harveys Brewery has explained why it did not purchase the Beards local chain of pubs six years when it had the chance to do so. It could have crippled the company financially. Greene King made the highest bid and has antagonised Lewes people ever since by withdrawing Harveys beer from sale in virtually all its outlets. The Lewes Arms is the latest former Beards pub to face the axing of its local brew.

This week Barcombe resident Stuart Perry said: 'Would someone please explain to the real ale drinkers of the area why, when the opportunity arose, Harveys failed to purchase the Beards tied house estate, allowing a monster, namely Greene King, into Lewes. While Lewes is still blessed with numerous inns, there are now fewer worth drinking in because of the bland Greene King brews on offer and their uninspiring portfolio of guest ales.'

Greene King bought up 44 pubs in Sussex at a cost believed to be between £35 million and £40 million. Harveys owns 46 pubs but only three in Lewes. Harveys marketing manager Bill Inman said: 'Of course, we wanted the Beards pubs. There were half-a-dozen companies, including ourselves, in the bidding. 'We had a professional valuation. We had arranged for the money to buy the pubs at a valuation we were happy with and could afford. 'The bids were closed. Greene King outbid everyone by making a bid that was 25 per cent over the market valuation.'They paid top dollar. 'We couldn't afford to match that. It could have crippled us. It could have destroyed us.'

*Lewes Arms drinkers have collected a petition containing more than 500 signatures, including that of MP Norman Baker, in a last-ditch attempt to fight the loss of their beloved Harveys.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Greene King is reportedly looking to sell a package of about 150 tenanted pubs, most of them in the South of England. According to The Times, Greene King has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to advise it on the sale process. The pubs, most of which are freeholds, are said to be a mix of smaller, drinks-led operations and sites with property redevelopment potential. The Times says several pub companies are looking to “offload” wet-led pubs ahead of the smoking ban. It reports that Wolverhampton & Dudley,Enterprise Inns , Punch Taverns and Mitchells & Butlers have also put packages up for sale in recent months.

Greene King to sell 150 English pubs: Pubs affected likely to be hit by smoking ban
18 October, 2006. By Hamish Champ

Greene King is selling around 150 pubs in England that are likely to face problems under the up-coming smoking ban, due next summer. The group’s chief executive Rooney Anand confirmed a report in today's Times that Greene King has earmarked the wet-led pubs for sale.
Most of the sites are freeholds, small, and said to have property development potential.

Anand said the report “was true”, and added that the pubs affected were of a high quality but no longer met the group’s estate criteria. “For anyone playing a scale game these pubs would fit,” he said. Greene King had often sold “high quality, lucrative” venues, he added, when they didn’t meet the model Greene King had in place.

Greene King told analysts during a recent tour of some of its Scottish estate that around 12 per cent of its pubs north of the border and some six per cent of those in England would be adversely affected by the smoking bans.

The brewer owns around 2,600 pubs in the UK, following its acquisition of Nottingham-based brewer Hardys & Hansons.

Greene King Recent History

By the early 1960s Greene King owned over 900 pubs.

Its more recent pub acquisitions have included:

The Magic Pub Company (273 pubs, in 1996)

Beards of Sussex (43 pubs, in 1998)

The Marston’s southern estate (165 pubs, in 1999)

Morland (422 pubs, Old Speckled Hen and Ruddles, in 1999)

Old English Inns (136 pubs, in September 2001)

Dalgety Taverns (8 pubs in Scotland, in April 2002)

Morrells of Oxford (107 pubs, in June 2002)

Laurel Pub Company (432 pubs) in August 2004

T D Ridley & Sons Limited (73 pubs) in July 2005

Belhaven Group (271 pubs) in September 2005

Hardy and Hansons (268 pubs) in June 2006

It now owns about 2,680 pubs.

Over the same period its record with breweries acquired is:

Morlands - acquired 1999: closed

Ridleys - acquired 2005: closed

Belhaven Brewery - acquired 2005 - brewery still open (in Dunbar)

Hardy and Hansons - acquired 2006: closed by Christmas

Greene King to close Hardys & Hansons Kimberley brewery; 80 jobs at risk

LONDON (AFX) October 3 - Greene King PLC, the East Anglian-based brewer and pubs group, will close the Hardy & Hansons brewery at Kimberley, Nottingham, putting around 80 jobs at risk. The group, which acquired Hardys & Hansons for £270m earlier this year, said that following a review of the business it made 'no economic sense' to continue brewing at the site. Production is scheduled to stop by the end of this year.

'The review has given us a very detailed understanding of the company and has underlined the quality of the business we've acquired. But we've concluded with regret that it doesn't make economic sense to continue brewing at Kimberley and sadly this means that the brewery will close at the end of the year,' said Greene King s chief executive Rooney Anand.

Production will be switched to Greene King's Bury St Edmunds site. The head office functions will also be moved there by the end of December.

'Greene King invests more in cask beer than any other brewer but, to remain viable, returns have to be delivered on this investment. The best way to ensure that Hardys & Hansons' brands continue to flourish in a challenging ale market is to transfer brewing to Bury St Edmunds,' Rooney said.

Greene King will, however, retain the Kimberley's cellar service and distribution business.
'Whilst it will be sad to close the brewery, we are pleased that the value of our activities in distribution, cellar services and sales, as well as throughout our extensive pub operations, has been recognised,' said Jonathan Webster, managing director of Hardys & Hansons.

Support Hardy and Hansons brewery on the CAMRA site here


The following letter has been sent to the Chief Executive of Green King and the Joint Managing Directors of Harveys on behalf of the Friends of the Lewes Arms

18 October 2006

Dear Mr Anand and Mr Jenner:

I am writing to you as a representative of our newly-formed campaigning group Friends of the Lewes Arms. I am sure you are aware of the considerable concern and antipathy to the news that Greene King is planning to remove Harvey’s Bitter from the Lewes Arms. The issue has already received considerable local media coverage and we are now geared up to make it into a national story.

We are writing you this letter, which we also intend to make public, with a proposition which, we believe, could resolve this thorny issue in an elegant manner that would reflect well on both parties. It is simplicity itself:

Greene King recognises the importance of the Lewes Arms to the town as a genuine community pub. It also recognises that Harvey’s Bitter is the preferred brew of the vast majority of the patrons and that removing this beer would severely damage the numerous community activities that the pub shelters as the existing clientele would be dispersed as a result. Therefore it is willing, in this specific instance, to continue to serve Harvey’s Bitter as a genuine gesture to the community.

It might then be that Harveys would feel able to stock some Greene King products as a reciprocal gesture. This, of course, would be a matter for Harveys, and we are acutely aware that with just 47 pubs they are not on a level playing field with Greene King.

However, some form of amicable agreement between the gentlemen of the trade would reflect well on both companies and would save an outstanding community pub. Its intensely loyal band of regulars would not disperse and thereby kill off the Lewes Arms’ traditions.

We are as keen as you are to see the end of what has already been dubbed by the press a “beer war”. We hope our proposition meets with your favour

Yours sincerely
John May
For Friends of the Lewes Arms


Greene King have withdrawn the Lewes Arms Ale. Here follows the most recent exchange of letters.

17th October 2006
Dear Mr Brigden

I refer to your letter of 12 October addressed to Rooney Anand, our Chief Executive. It is my understanding that the beer, and therefore the pump clip, will be withdrawn for commercial reasons.

I would be grateful if you could confirm that the Council has no issue with the use of the Arms in relation to the pub itself.

Yours sincerely
Lindsay Keswick/Company Secteray

The response from Lewes Town Council

18th October 2006

Dear Mr Keswick

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

Thank you for your letter of 17th October regarding this issue.

I am pleased to learn that you intend to withdraw the pump-clip that bears our arms, although concerned at your statement that this is “for commercial reasons”. I hope that my original letter made it clear that no-one other than the Council may use these arms, and therefore the question is one of legal entitlement, not commercial expediency. Unlike a more modern trademark, we are not empowered to grant or licence the use of the arms and we alone may use them. I must, therefore, ask for your written undertaking that the Council’s armorial bearings will not be used by your company in connection with your trading activities.

As to the use in connection with the pub itself; this is not considered to be technically “use” in quite the same way. It is an accepted part of England’s heritage that pubs often took the name of their local manor or, in our case, the County Town in this way. The arms are seen as being merely “displayed”, as an adjunct to the name and related décor of the establishment and this is acknowledged as an historic and flattering arrangement to which the Lords of the Borough 300 years ago probably tacitly agreed! The Council does not propose any change to this custom, provided that the display is limited to decorative purposes and not extended to support commercial activity such as promotion of products or branding.

I trust that you find this position to be fair and reasonable.

Yours sincerely
Steve Brigden/Town Clerk

Thanks to Richard, a Friend of the Lewes Arms, for pointing us to another large business v local area row that we should consider - the recent case of Nike v Hackney Council
in the The Guardian Society section.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


16 October 2006

ANGRY Lewes Town Council is to invoke a medieval enactment against national brewer Greene King to preserve its sole right to bear and display the town's coat-of-arms.

The brewer has invoked the council's wrath by using the famous armorial arms to sell a new beer with which it intends to replace local brew Harveys at a town centre pub.
Customers at the Lewes Arms are also furious. More than 500 of them have signed a petition calling for their beloved ale to be retained.

Town clerk Steve Brigden this week said: 'We, the council, were granted the sole right by the Monarch Charles 1 in 1634 to bear the coat-of-arms. First of all, we deplore the brewery's action in attempting to withdraw our local beer from the pub in question. We are also using our legal powers to resist the use of the coat-of-arms on the company's new Lewes Arms beer. As far as we are concerned, it is cynical marketing to the detriment of our fine local bitter. If Greene King decline to listen to us, we shall investigate further use of our legal powers to ensure that Lewes' ancient brewing heritage will not be disadvantaged.'

The Mayor, Cllr Merlin Milner, added: 'As a Harveys drinker, I think the brewers should listen to their customers rather than head office. The use of the coat-of-arms as a logo is a disingenuous attempt to lure Harveys customers to their own beer, masquerading as a local brew. 'They must think we are stupid.'

Local customer Andy Gammon said it was he who approached Lewes Town Council when he saw the coat-of-arms on the hand pump. 'I thought there was an issue here that needed to be discussed,' he said. 'Personally, I don't drink the new beer and I have no intention of doing so.'

Greene King was invited to comment but had not done so as the Sussex Express went to press.


The Town Clerk of Lewes Town Council will be writing a letter this week to Greene King deploring their actions in using the town's 'armourial bearings' to badge their new commercial beer 'Lewes Arms.' They will be threatening legal action.

The Borough Council of Lewes was awarded its armorial bearings by Royal Prerogative in 1634 and the rights to 'bear those arms' has been inherited by Lewes Town Council. Under this Prerogative, the Council cannot grant anyone the right to use it - let alone a commercial company, who are using it as a brand identity.

The members of the Town Council 'are of one mind on this issue,' the Town Clerk Steve Brigden told The Generalist. 'We want to carry this issue as far as we can.'


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

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Regulars up in arms over Harveys ban
Martin Crees, left, John May, right and other regulars who are compaigning for the pub to carry on selling Harveys
Martin Crees, left, John May, right and other regulars who are compaigning for the pub to carry on selling Harveys

8:15am Wednesday 11th October 2006

Pub regulars have reacted angrily to plans to call time on their favourite tipple.

The Lewes Arms, in Mount Place, Lewes, which is owned by Greene King, will stop serving locally brewed Harveys beer at Christmas.

It is the only Greene King pub in the town which still sells the Lewes-based ale and regulars fear for the pub's trade if it is removed from the pumps.

The name Harveys has long been associated with the supply of beers, wines and spirits in Sussex. The Bridge Wharf Brewery was established on its present site by the River Ouse, overlooking Cliffe bridge in Lewes, by John Harvey in 1784.

Bill Inman, marketing manager at Harveys, said: "There are other pubs in the town which serve our beer and I think people will go elsewhere. The Lewes Arms could find their business is not viable.

"Harveys is still very much a family business and we have a seventh generation descendant of John Harvey who is managing the business.

"We have always had a policy that we trade within Sussex because that is where we started.

We have never thought of going to trade in East Anglia, where Greene King come from, and it is always irksome when someone from another county comes and trades in your heartland."

Campaign The Lewes Arms has sold Harveys Best, an award-winning beer, for more than 50 years and customers have launched a campaign to try and get Greene King to change its mind.

Lewes Town Council has also written to Greene King asking it not to use the town's armorial crest to promote its own brand of Lewes Arms beer and has said that if the brewery does use the crest the council will consider taking legal action.

A petition against the removal of the beer has been signed by more than 500 people and Lewes MP Norman Baker has asked Greene King to reconsider its decision.

Regular John May said: "There is a tremendous depth of feeling about this in Lewes.

"It is the last pub left in the area owned by Greene King which sells Harveys."

Jack Wilkinson, secretary for the Brighton and South Downs branch for the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), has said a public meeting will be held in the pub tomorrow night at 8pm to discuss how Greene King can be persuaded not to remove Harveys beer from the pub.

He said: "We know that if it is taken out a lot of people will stop drinking at the pub and we do not want that to happen.

"I do not see how they can even contemplate taking the beer out because they will do a lot of damage to their business.

"They have not spoken to local people to find out what they want and do not realise that people will move elsewhere when they take it away."

Great range Kris Gumbrell, operations director for the Greene King Pub Company, said: "We're committed to all our pubs having a great range of cask ales and of course you'd expect us to want to serve our own awardwinning quality ales in our own pubs.

"We are very proud of our premium beers and we are confident that our fine selection of ales and our plans for further investment in the pub will enable our customers to continue to enjoy the warm welcome offered by the Lewes Arms."

Saturday, October 14, 2006



Lewes Arms: 4th October 2006 10:40am
see more photos of Lewes at Lewes Light

Press reactions to the original postings:

VIVA LEWES: Issue 40

Beer Wars: In August, Harveys Best won the real ale organisation CAMRA’s Best Bitter Award, and came second in the Best Beer award. This, in the eyes of the people who know these things, makes it the best bitter of its type and the second best beer of any type in the country. It is the sort of beer that landlords should by dying to sell. Yet Greene King, who own the licence for the Lewes Arms, are reportedly planning to stop serving it in that pub, having already banned it from the Black Horse and the Royal Oak. And banned is the appropriate word: pubs are allowed guest ales, as long as they are NOT Harveys.

There is a petition going round, trying to persuade Greene King to change their mind. Locals are already planning where they are going to drink instead of the Arms. I was in there on Friday night, and it was one of the main topics of conversation among the clientele, who go there largely to chat. The pub, of course, has long had a no-music, no-mobile phones and no-fruit machine policy to aid the art of conversation. The Harveys Best, of course, plays its part in the tongue-loosening: estimates vary but it is reported to outsell the GK beers in the pub
by at least 3-1.

Greene King, of course, are no strangers to bullying marketing tactics. Originally a small local brewery in Bury St Edmonds in Suffolk (established in 1799), in recent years the company has started growing into a corporate monster, gobbling up its competitors, first in East Anglia, and increasingly all over the country. The company now owns 2000 pubs, and the Hungry Horse Hotel chain. They have recently bought up breweries such as Belhaven, Morland, Ridley’s and Ruddles. The premises of one of these formerly proud institutions remains open (Belhaven); the others have all been sold and their best beers incorporated (often much to their detriment) into the Greene King empire.

“Ruddles County used to be a world class beer,” says Peter Coppard, of CAMRA, “since Greene King destroyed it I wouldn’t cross the road to buy a pint.” “Greene King are rapidly becoming a national concern,” he continues, “which should be of national concern.” Harveys may be losing sales through Greene King’s aggressive marketing tactics, but Coppard stresses that the company is unlikely to be an immediate takeover target. “But a lot of other breweries are a bit shaky,” he says, suggesting a further increase in the Greene Kingdom in the near future. “This is of great concern to CAMRA. All these mergers constitute a reduction in choice for the consumer and a reduction of jobs in the beer industry.”

So is this something we should be getting het up about at a time when our country is involved in two wars and the global economy is starving half the third world to death? Well, yes, actually. Harveys in the Lewes Arms (and the pub has always kept an excellent pint) is one of Lewes’ institutions. And if Greene King stop serving it there, the nature of the pub is likely to change for good. And thus the nature of the town. “You can’t really blame the company for not wanting to serve one of its rival’s beers, to the detriment of its own,” says Coppard. “But the sad thing is that we’ve seen other pubs in Lewes suffer from Harveys being taken away, and it’s a shame for the Lewes Arms, which is likely to see the same thing happen. Harveys drinkers are likely to vote with their feet, and move to other pubs, where they do serve the local bitter. I suggest that Harveys and Greene King do a pub swap, so that the locals can stay in the place which is so suited to their needs.” Sounds like a good idea to us. But which pub?


Beer pumps /Lewes Arms.
For more Lewes pictures see Lewes Light

Life in this overworked and stressed-out
Britain of ours is made bearable by one’s local. At least that’s my and many other people’s experience.

The public house is, as its name suggests, our modern-day 'longhouse' – a place where one can escape daily cares and speak freely to friends and colleagues, whilst pouring whatever your poison is down one’s throat until things don’t seem too bad at all. A place where one can get some sense of community, of being part of something bigger than oneself.

Naturally, this last bastion of free speech and free thinking is under threat. The ‘free houses’ have in the last two decades or so, been gobbled up by industrial chains whose only interest is the bottom line. In a criminal wave of refurbishment, establishments that have survived centuries largely unchanged have been vandalised and turned into modern-day gin palaces, ersatz heritage destinations - history with the soul sucked out of its bones.

Now it’s the turn of our local, the Lewes Arms, from which beer has been sold since 1720-odd. Taken over sometime back by Greene King – the Suffolk-based brewers – there has been a steady pressure to change many of the elements that make the pub what it is. Now they want to take away the Harveys. This is getting serious.

The Lewes Arms is, by any measure, a successful pub. A motley collection of small rooms, with no music or mobile phones, its full of people, dogs, children and conversation. Chess games in one corner, toads in the games room, crosswords at the bar. There are an endless series of meetings and events in the upstairs function room, including the annual pantomime (held in February !!), jazz and folk clubs, reader’s groups, exhibitions, public meetings, cribbage sessions and more. The pub has a calendar of strange and wonderful competitions including dwyle flunking (don’t ask), spaniel racing, pea-throwing and sundry other delights.

The most popular drink is Harvey’s Bitter, brewed in the town, a beer whose quality was recognised this year when it won the Silver Award at CAMRA’s 2006 Champion Beer of Britain competition. It also won the Gold Award in the Best Bitter category.

Word around the bar is that some 80% or more of the drink sold in the bar is Harveys but Greene-King want to get rid of it. Commercial logic would suggest that if Harvey’s only sold a few pints a week that would be fair enough. But the majority of drinkers in the bar come there for the Harveys and, as a result, make it a successful pub financially.

So what can Greene King’s motive be for banning the home brew? Surely, even if it is another brewer’s product, if its making money for you, what’s the problem. GK are introducing their own ale, called the ‘Lewes Arms’ but they must be delusional if they expect seasoned Harvey’s drinkers to swap over to a lesser brew.

Friends from Cambridge are advising that the Greene King strategy is to get rid of the locals then move in, tart the place up and get a completely new clientele who have no allegiance to the auld brew. They have seen it happen with their ancient locals. Before you know it, they say, there’ll be men wearing crombies at the door and they’ll be serving blue cocktails.


So it may come as a surprise or not, that the trade magazine The Publican is running a national campaign called Proud of Pubs, whose main sponsor is Greene King. More than 1 in 10 MPs from across the parties in the House of Commons, have signed up to a motion backing the trade and the campaign.

In fact Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King, told his audience of licensees and MPs at the campaign’s launch in Parliament, that the motion was “a great start” in the battle to put pubs on the front foot and highlight their positive contribution to the nation. “It’s about time society started standing up for pubs, and recognising them as one of our nation’s greatest assets.”

This point was underlined by Fiona Hope, marketing director of Greene King, who said: “The pub and the pint are great institutions that play a positive role in millions of people’s lives.’ The campaign’s website urges readers to pledge allegiance to their local by filling in and submitting a small form. By pledging allegiance in this way, says Fiona Hope, it ‘gives pub-goers a communal voice in support of great pubs and great beer.’

The Lewes Arms already has a communal voice and its saying: ‘So why is Greene King proposing to remove Harveys from the Lewes Arms’. It is an important community pub, full of life and laughter, which serves a great beer that everybody likes – Harveys.

It is clear that, if they continue to insist with this misguided strategy, then a substantial number of our little community will be scattered to the winds and the welcoming arms of other establishments around the town. Does this matter? It matters if you believe all the values that Greene King say they aspire to.

Fiona again: “We want to show the wider world that it’s not just the pub industry that values pubs and beers. It’s the millions of people who visit pubs for great company, quality food and excellent beer. People who care about their local.”

We are some of the people who care about our local and hope to hold Greene King to the high values that they claim to espouse. They can demonstrate this by leaving the Lewes Arms and its Harvey’s alone.


To take the argument one step further. There is another national campaign called Local Works, backed by more than 80 national organisations – including the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) – which is a lobbying for the introduction of a Sustainable Communities Bill.

‘If the bill becomes law, writes Daniel Pearce in The Publican, it will set up a process where local communities will have more decision-making power over local issues and the government will be required to help reverse ‘Ghost Town Britain.’

Roy Bailey, who is leading the campaign, says such a bill will put pressure on pub companies to do more to ensure local beers find their way into local pubs.

SIBA director Nick Stafford told The Publican : “There’s already a consensus that the pub is the hub of the community. What better support can the pub get from its local brewer? It’s got to be a priority for every brewer to help its local pub by providing it with quality beer, at a reasonable price.” Harveys is already doing this and should be allowed to continue.

We are familiar with the concept of ‘food miles’ so now we should be talking about ‘beer miles.’ Local beer in local pubs means less lorries and tankers on the road and less damaging greenhouse gases.

Incidentally, has Greene King got an environmental policy. Perhaps it could use its considerable energy and expertise to commit to making the lighting in all its pubs energy efficient and ensure that beer is delivered the shortest distance from source to mouth. The corporate colour is Green but one suspects the company is a long way from fulfilling its social obligation in this regard.

It summary, it seems that Greene King, like many other large corporates, has a public face which claims to be supporting the very values that they are actually intent on destroying.

Recent reviews of the Lewes Arms from www.beerintheevening.com

Beware!! It is strongly rumoured down here in Lewes that Greene King are trying to remove Harvey's from the six remaining former Beard's pubs which they own. This, the Wellington in Seaford and the Red Lion in Bromley are three of them - I don't know which the other three are. There has been a petition going in the Lewes Arms. If one of these pubs is your local and you want Harvey's to remain, you may wish to do the same.


The "own brew beer" is almost certainly a beer from the Greene King portfolio rebadged for this pub, but I do not know which one. It is rumoured that the Harvey's in this pub (and other former Beard's pubs) is under threat again. Greene King should realise that if they can't get Harvey's here, many people will go elsewhere to get it. Not only is it damn good beer, local people are fiercely loyal to their home-town brewery.


This is the sort of pub you dream about having as your local. After many years of dreaming, it now is. Despite being a Greene King tied house, it still serves Harvey's Best although this winter there is, alas, no Old. Nice atmosphere (even in the front bar - we don't bite, you know!). Come on a Sunday afternoon and you may well get press-ganged into one of the crazy competitions they occasionally hold, such as pea-throwing or paper aeroplanes. A real community pub.


This is a fabulous pub. It is everything a pub should be - very friendly punters, good beer, a relaxing place to be. It has three separate rooms, including an intimate front bar. A great place to play chess as well! Although it is a Greene King pub, Harvey's is still served from its days as a Beards house because the regulars prefer it! I thoroughly recommend this pub for the great beer and people.

Comments on the original story SO FAR: Please leave yours by clicking 'comment' at foot of this story.

RLT said... Hi John, Always a pleasure to see you hit the nail on the head! I'm setting out for Lewes shortly from Toronto here in Canada. At the top of my to-do list will be a visit to my old watering hole in Lewes - the Lewes Arms - to see my old chums and quaff a few pints of Harvey's best. We've already seen Harvey's disappear from the Black Horse, a fine Lewes pub, much to our chagrin. The question of taking out the Harvey's at the Arms has been rumbling on for years. It has been hanging over us like the sword of Damocles! It is almost as if we need to be punished for having the temerity to be different. In a town known for bonfires and floods, we need to be taught a lesson by a heartless bigco who take us all for granted. I recall Greene King being lampooned in the parade on the 5th of November in recent years, but to a bunch of Suffolk accountants it is water off a duck's back. What do they know of Lewes and its quirky concerns? They care even less. A spot of bother - get the PR department to fix it! Well don't fix what ain't broke, as they say in these parts. We like it the way it is! Rupert Lloyd Thomas, Toronto.

ML said... One way for people to make known their views on actions taken by listed companies is to become a shareholder and turn up at the company's Annual General Meeting to ask questions. People can make their own minds up and should bear in mind that some companies make it very difficult for small shareholders to have a say. (I have no idea if this is so with Greene King). Anyway, Greene King shares are today (October 2nd) about 9 quid each. The cheapest way to buy a share appears to be by calling 0845 601 0995 and quoting reference Low Co0169, a service promoted on the GK website. I checked this morning and they would accept purchases of just one share with a debit card. The minimum commission is 15 quid, so for 24 quid you can become a GK shareholder and turn up at their next AGM and ask the board questions about their conduct of the company's affairs. For the last 3 years GK have held their AGM on the first Friday in September at Culford School near Bury St. Edmunds. This is 133 miles from Lewes by road and the AA says it takes 2 1/2 hours. By train, don't even think about it. The next Greene King AGM is on Friday 31st August 2007. More of all this later perhaps. In the meantime, a curiosity: Graham Greene was a scion of the brewing family. His first novel, 'The Man Within', was set largely in Lewes and is an everyday story of 18th century smuggling folk. The hero even stays in an inn near the High Street. If not the Rainbow, The Lewes Arms?

Florrie Bamber said... Well said John! I believe that Greene King are deeply envious of the success of Harvey's and are trying to use their coporate power to squeeze our local brewery out of business. The Lewes Arms is an absolutely wonderful local - the absence of poker machines, juke boxes and mobile phones encourages conversation (how else did all these unique events evolve at the Lewes Arms?). Combined with Lewes folk being very interesting, it makes a wonderful community resource. Long may it continue.