The Good Beer Guide drops pub over its ‘locals only’ nights

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A HISTORIC pub in a Yorkshire city has been dropped from The Good Beer Guide for running “locals only” nights when the bar is busy.

The landlord of the Blue Bell in York, Jim Hardie, has accused Camra officials of putting political correctness before beer by excluding the pub from the 2014 edition of the real ale Bible. The Grade II* listed pub, which is York’s smallest drinking place, has been recommended for the quality of its brews since Mr Hardie took over the business more than 12 years ago.

But now York Camra committee members have ruled his decision to favour locals when there is no more room at the inn flouts the campaign group’s admissions policy – which states pubs should be open and welcoming to all.

When hen and stag parties and racegoers threaten to steal the seats of regulars at the pub in Fossgate, he puts up a sign saying “private party”.

Mr Hardie, 52, said: “I only have a capacity of 60 and if I go over that I will be fined. Yet there are other businesses in the guide who operate door staff and turn people away.

“I can’t afford door staff but I rule this pub with a rod of iron. There is no swearing in here or nothing. I’ve been to plenty of other pubs throughout the country and standards of behaviour are absolutely appalling. It puts decent people off having a quiet drink.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a well-run pub and I serve good beer so it’s up to Camra if they want to chuck me out the guide.

“I would rather look after my regulars – and to a man they have told Camra where to go. I have had card-carrying Camra members rip their cards up in here. The beer is still good and I’m still busy.”

Branch chairman Matthew Grant refused to comment, as members were not allowed to discuss entries ahead of the guide being published in September. But branch minutes refer to a number of incidents in which people, including Camra members and visiting guests, had been apparently denied entry to the pub.

Although the branch agreed all pubs had a right to exclude or eject troublemakers, an indiscriminate ban was not considered acceptable. It was agreed to exclude the Blue Bell and replace it with the ‘“next pub in the list”.

York Camra campaigns officer Steve Golton said: “That is pretty much correct. But we do not have anything to add. It is a decision we have made.”

The Blue Bell became a pub in 1798 and its dark wooden Edwardian panelling is the oldest untouched interior in York, dating from 1903.