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Release the Lease: Campaigners fight to bring local pub into community ownership

04 May 2023 4 minute read
The Brondanw Arms in Llanfrothen in Gwynedd

Siân Williams

Campaigners have launched a petition calling on Robinsons Brewery to ‘Release the Lease’ on their local pub so they can bring it into community ownership.

Launched four days ago, the petition to save the Brondanw Arms in the rural hamlet of Llanfrothen in Gwynedd has been signed by over 700 people.

Campaigners say the pub is an integral part of their rural community and a vital hub and resource.

Over the decades talented Welsh musicians from the local area and further afield have entertained customers inside and outside of the Brondanw Arms.

Regulars have included big names like Gruff Rhys, Rhys Ifans and the late Tich Gwilym.

Local campaigner Sian Cwper told Nation.Cymru that the community suffered a blow when the pub closed last October.

She said “We’ve lost touch with each other somehow and especially after covid and everything that’s gone down. We’ve lost out on being part of the community to some extent and people who are new to the area don’t get to meet others.

“We want Robinsons to sell us the lease so that we can run it as a community pub.”

Campaigners have put up posters outside the pub calling on Robinsons to ‘Release the Lease’ and claim the brewery have sent someone to take them down.

They have vowed to just keep putting them back up again.

Energy costs

The Brondanw Arms closed in October 2022 as did many other businesses in the area because of soaring energy costs.

At the time, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS for Dwyfor Meirionnydd stood up in the Senedd and reeled off a long list of businesses, including the Brondanw Arms, who had been forced to shut.

Robinsons brewery has held the lease from the Brondanw estate since 1986 and can continue to do so until 2052.

The company claim to have tried and failed to attract new tenants and the site is now falling into disrepair.

The ‘Ring’ pub in Llanfrothen is part of the Brondanw Estate which sits in the Croesor Valley and extends to about 4,000 acres.

A registered charity, the estate has 48 residential properties, 5 farms and a lettings policy which prioritises local people.

According to its website: “Rents for the cottages are discounted in recognition of the Trustees’ desire to create a thriving rural community where history, culture and language are respected and embraced.”

Estate

The estate currently lets the Brondanw Arms to Robinsons on a 99-year lease which runs to 2052.

Within the estate is Plas Brondanw, the former home of Clough Williams-Ellis creator of the Italianate village of Portmeirion.

Campaigner Sian Cwper is his granddaughter and she believes the Brondanw Estate also wants to see the pub reopen.

“One possibility is perhaps we could come in with the Brondanw Estate.

“Robinsons claim that they are trying to get someone in to run it but they want £14,000 towards the equipment. The kitchen fryer is full of fat, the fridge freezer is full of food and the place is a mess.

“What we don’t want is for Robinsons to put someone in and they’re gone in four months and we’re back to square one.”

The wider area within the Eryri National Park has a proud tradition of successful community run not-for-profit enterprises.

Six miles down the road in Llan Ffestiniog is the community-owned pub Pengwern, to name but one.

“Other local community-led projects have done well” said Sian Cwper, “I believe we could as well if Robinsons give up the lease.”

Robinsons have been approached for further comment.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

Surely with the Pengwern as an example the community spirit of the ‘Ring’ and Croesor area could win the day…

In the true fighting spirit of the Brondanw Pig Breeders Association (1969)…

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