Camra could call last orders on traditional focus as it launches consultation among its 177,000 members

Francesca Washtell
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Campaign For Real Ale Hold The Great British Beer Festival
Camra will consult with its 177,000 members over the coming year (Source: Getty)

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has launched a consultation among its 177,000 members to ask "who and what it should represent" in the future, even if it means not focusing on real ale.

Camra, which launched in 1971, has traditionally focused its activities on promoting and protecting traditional real ale, but has also supported issues to do with pubs heritage, cider and foreign beer.

It is one of the largest single-issue consumer groups in the world, but it seems to be ready to call last orders on its current focus if members vote for a reevaluation.

Over the coming year the organisation will ask its members to complete surveys and attend around 50 consultation meetings across the UK this summer, while the committee at the heart of the Revitalisation Project will also consult with journalists, MPs and stakeholders in the beer and pub industry.

The group has mentioned factors, such as the rise of craft beer and renewed threats to pubs through new government policies, as having challenged Camra to "review if it is best positioned to represent its members in future". Craft beer's rise, in particular, seems to be gaining ever-increasing momentum. Research last week showed its reputation as a "luxury" item had caused new brewery openings in London to jump 24 per cent, from 29 new opening in 2014 to 36 in 2015.

One of the organisation's four founders, Michael Hardman, has returned to lead the project, which will use member feedback to form a proposal about what the organisation should campaign about in future that will be unveiled at its members' weekend in April 2017.

"Camra has sometimes been criticised for failing to move with the times, being old-fashioned and reactionary, and failing to embrace developments in the pub and beer industry such as craft beer. This is the chance for our members to tell us who we should represent in the future and what we should be campaigning for," Michael Hardman, chairman of the Revitalisation Project, said.

"If we want to play a key part in driving the beer market back into growth and to help create a thriving pub sector, do we continue with our narrow focus, or should we become more inclusive?

"When we founded the campaign the most important thing was choice and combating poor quality beer. Now our members need to tell us what is important to them. We need to hear from as many Camra members as possible to tell us what they think the organisation should look like in the future."

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