Saturday 16 December 2023

The Saturday List #425 - Ten Reasons why we need to Save The Midland Hotel in West Hendon

The Asset of Community Value(ACV) application for The Midland Hotel in Hendon is coming up for renewal. This gives the pub a degree of protection from the greedy developers, who are hell bent on removing every community space from the Borough of Barnet and London in general and replacing them with 'luxury flats', that never seem to end up housing anyone on the waiting list in the Borough of Barnet, but do line the pockets of the people who put them up. 

So why should everyone in the London Borough of Barnet support the proposal to renew the Midland Hotel ACV?

Here are ten reasons.

1. The case has already been made and proven. This was done in 2018, when the original ACV was granted for five years (the normal term of an ACV). The only thing that has changed is that, in anticipation of the expiration of the ACV, the developers who own the pub, got rid of the tenant and have closed the pub. They are hoping that this will undermine the case, but in fact it makes it stronger, as it means we can demonstrate that there is a large gap in the community for a pub/community space. 

2. The pub hosted many community events. These events are now homeless. One good example of this are the regular events The Barnet Eye blog would arrange at The Midland. We'd hold our community awards at the pub every December, this was last held in 2019. Sadly Covid and the owners intervened. Now we are homeless and have nowhere to do this. You may ask "What are the Barnet Eye Community Awards?" - We asked local people to nominate local people, campaigners and good people who deserve a shout out and a pint on us. We'd give them a certificate and they'd get a mention on the blog. The best thing of all, was that it gave nice, decent people a chance to get together and mingle. We devised it to build community and the Midland Hotel was the heart of the awards. Click here  to read about and watch the video from the last awards. 

3. The pub hosted many charity events, raising money for great causes. I attended many such events and even organised a few myself, for charities such as MacMillan Cancer relief. Charities rely on such events for funding and to do this, spaces are needed.

4. Local people need a space to chill out, relax and talk. If we want to build a sense of community, we need spaces for people want to get out, have a drink, a cheap bite to eat and a chat with friends. These friends becomes a mutual support network. Such things keep many of us sane and happy. 

5. There is no other convenient pub in the locality. I did a search on google for pubs in the locality, this is the map. It is extremely handy for people using Hendon station, who might want a drink or a sandwich after a stressful day at work. Before covid, over 1 million people a year were using the station, and numbers are creeping back up to those levels. It is a busy location, but there is literally nothing else in the area for locals and commuters passing through. I am amazed that the developers could not see the potential for doing more with the pub as a pub.  For commuters arriving on a train, when their bus is not coming for a while, the pub also provides a handy refuge. 

6. With the closure of the Midland, the west of Barnet Borough has no music pubs. My band has played at the Midland Hotel numerous times, usually at least 3-4 times a year. We'd always put on two or three other bands with us, often young artists, giving them vital live experience. Music contributes 4-5 Billion a year to the UK economy. It would contribute nothing without artists starting off at such grassroots venues, that is why we need to protect assets of community value. My band has been playing regularly in Camden Town at The Dublin Castle since the pandemic. That is the nearest music pub accessible by the Northern Line Edgware Branch. Barnet is the mopst populous Borough in London. They are bidding for the London Borough of Culture. To my mind this is ridiculous, if they can't even protect the one music pub on the western side of the Borough. In 2015, this blog launched the Barnet  Save London Music Campaign at the Midland, specifically to stop music pubs from closing

7. A society that doesn't value community is a society that will fail. We need to build bridges in our community. Not everyone goes to pubs, but for some they are the absolute centre of their life. The best pubs are local pubs, where you will know a few people and have someone to chat to when you are feeling down. They are open every day of the year. For some people, in these desperate times, they will go into a pub and have a half just to warm up and see a friendly face. In times where many cannot afford to pay for heating and are stuck on their own, is it too much to give them a bit of respite from this, without walking miles in the rain? Pubs are communities and the people in them look out for each other.

8. Pubs provide employment opportunities and economic activities. Working in a bar is a very transportable skill. For many teenagers, doing a few shifts in a pub is a great way to legally earn some money. Pubs also employ cleaners, chefs and require maintenance that also keeps people in work. They support the local business community. Many commercial deals are done in pubs, staff have events and drinks etc.

9. People need spaces for Funerals, Weddings and other events. On several occasions, my band would turn up to the Midland Hotel to perform gigs, to find that there was a wake in full swing in the pub. Local people saying adios to friends, in the manner they lived their lives. This is absolutely key. Both our drummer Graham and myself had our 50th Birthday parties at the pub. I would have had my 60th there, had it been open. I had it at the Bohemia in Finchley instead, that is a great example of what the Midland should be with committed owners.

10. Well situated local pubs are good for the environment. Barnet Council should be actively encouraging anything which puts facilities as close to people as possible. If there is a good pub at the end of your road, you won't get in your car. The Railway Hotel is in a brilliant location, being next to the rail station and next to a bus stop. It is less than 20 minutes from central London. One of the reason I've promoted dozens of gigs at the pub is because people can easily get to it. Our band had built a good following in Hendon on the back of local gigs there. 

So what can you do to help? The answer is simple.

Yesterday, my band launched our Xmas single. It is fair to say that the band wouldn't exist without the Midland Hotel and other such grassroots pubs. My band is playing next Saturday 23rd December in the Dublin Castle in Camden, another great music pub (click here for a ticket). I love the Dublin Castle, but we need such venues in our own Borough. Please check out our new video, sadly, we won't be playing this in Hendon this December, as there are no venues.

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