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CAMRA to broaden its role?

The leadership of one of Europe’s most successful consumer organisations is considering refocusing its future purpose after being presented with a wide-ranging review into its aims and activities – but is clear campaigning for real ale, pubs, clubs, cider and perry will remain core.

The volunteers heading up CAMRA were presented with a report and proposals by the Revitalisation Project at a meeting in early December.

The Revitalisation Project has proposed that the Campaign remains committed to its core aims of promoting real ale, real cider, perry and campaigning for pubs and clubs – but has suggested CAMRA needs to widen its vision and mission to reflect changing consumer needs and developments in the drinks industry.

In summary the Revitalisation Project has recommended that:

  • Campaigning for real ale, cider and perry and protecting community pubs and clubs will remain core to CAMRA activities.
  • CAMRA widens its mission and purpose to reflect changing consumer needs and developments that have taken place across the sector since CAMRA’s foundation in 1971. The Revitalisation Project found that there is much CAMRA does well, so its proposals principally relate to opportunities for the organisation to remain relevant and effective in the future.
  • CAMRA broadens its focus to play a “leading role in informing and representing all those with an interest in good beer of any type”.
  • CAMRA promotes the “virtues of well-produced, well-kept cask-conditioned beers as the pinnacle of the brewer’s craft” while also promoting greater awareness and understanding to help drinkers judge for themselves what “quality” beer is.
  • Celebrating and protecting well-run community pubs and clubs should also remain core to CAMRA’s purpose, but the Campaign should do more to improve the range and quality of beer, cider and perry in “communal drinking” venues across the on-trade.
  • In response to the attacks on responsible drinkers by health campaigners, the organisation plays a leading role in speaking on behalf of all UK beer, cider and perry drinkers, and pub and club-goers.

The Revitalisation Project was officially launched in April 2016, to carry out a review of CAMRA’s purpose and activities and to ensure it was positioned to reflect changes in the pub and brewing industry.

The Revitalisation Project considered the views of tens of thousands of CAMRA members who responded to three surveys and the opinions of thousands who attended consultation meetings across the country. Its findings also take into account feedback from numerous industry stakeholders including politicians, brewers, cider producers, publicans and journalists.

The Revitalisation Project has now agreed a series of proposals which it presented to CAMRA’s National Executive – the most senior elected volunteers in the organisation – at a meeting in early December. The National Executive will now take ownership of the report and will be responsible for deciding whether, how and when, to implement the Revitalisation Project’s proposals.

CAMRA members will continue to be fully involved in the process and will be invited to discuss the Revitalisation Project proposals at the CAMRA Members’ Weekend and AGM to be held in Bournemouth in April 2017. A final decision on adopting the proposals will be taken at the Members’ Weekend and AGM in Coventry 2018.

Michael Hardman MBE, one of CAMRA’s founders and Chairman of the Revitalisation Project said: “Our proposals were agreed after eight months of hard work and include strengthening some of CAMRA’s best campaigns and practices as well as confirming our 45-year-long commitment to real ale and our long-standing support for pubs and clubs.

“We have recommended that we should explore some kinds of beer that have previously been outside our scope, but this is hardly a controversial proposal since our latest survey of members showed that there was a clear majority in favour of doing so.

“We now look forward to the National Executive accepting our proposals, depending on the results of an impact study they will be carrying out, and then to our 185,000 members voting on the proposals.”

Colin Valentine, Chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “I’d like to thank Michael and the Revitalisation Project for the work they have put in over the summer to survey tens of thousands of CAMRA members and meet thousands in person to ask them what they think.

“The Revitalisation Project has helped us to understand what our members want for the organisation in the future and the direction they believe we should take to respond to the changes in the pub and beer world.

“My fellow National Directors and I will now take the time to fully understand the Revitalisation Project report and the proposals which have been made to us. It’s now our job to decide what we will recommend to our members and seek their approval to changes, if appropriate, to our purpose and strategies and the activities we carry out to achieve them.

“While the work of the Revitalisation Project is now finished, this is really only the start of the process for the National Executive and CAMRA members. We need to make sure that members continue to be at the heart of the decisions we take and we will ensure they get a full opportunity to discuss the proposals at our Conference in April and then have the final vote on any changes to CAMRA’s purpose at the Members’ Weekend and AGM in 2018.”

As well as presenting its proposals to the National Executive, the Revitalisation Project published the findings of the third and final survey into the views of CAMRA members. The survey findings are available at: https://revitalisation.camra.org.uk/blog/revitalisation-project-survey-three-results

A full copy of the Revitalisation Project Proposal document is available here: https://revitalisation.camra.org.uk/blog/revitalisation-project-report-published