Saturday, 5 January 2019

All change at the top

It makes a nice change to see some positive news about CAMRA in fact it’s good to see any news, as the organisation has been rather quiet of late, but I’m sure that the story which broke just before Christmas will be welcomed by all of the Campaign’s 191,000 members.

The good news is that CAMRA has finally appointed a new Chief Executive, and the person who will  head the Campaign is none other than Tom Stainer, the organisation’s former Chief Campaigns and Communications Officer.

Tom took up his new position at the start of this year along with Ken Owst, another head office colleague, who has been promoted to Deputy Chief Executive. The appointment of Tom and Ken to their new positions follows the departure of former CEO Tim Page, who resigned last May, in order to return to the charity sector.

Page was appointed in 2014, despite having little experience of campaigning; although he did have considerable skills in fundraising and signing up new members to the charities he worked with. His appointment certainly raised a few eyebrows at the time, and ruffled a few feathers as well, but by concentrating too much on increasing CAMRA membership, there were concerns that Tim was missing the bigger picture.

I’m rather surprised that it has taken the Campaign so long to replace Page, particularly when there was some home-grown talent waiting in the wings,  but I’m pleased that CAMRA have recognised Tom Stainer’s talent  and achievements.

I assume the same applies to Ken Owst, although I’ve never met him, unlike Tom. Whatever the reason(s) for the delay, I’m delighted that the organisation has decided to promote two individuals from within., rather than looking outside again.

Tom has worked at CAMRA since 2006, when he took over as editor of its monthly newspaper, "What's Brewing". His background is in journalism, and he previously worked for  the Morning Advertiser, before being hired by CAMRA. Since joining CAMRA, Tom was responsible for the launch of the successful and award-winning BEER magazine before becoming CAMRA's Chief of Communications and Campaigns.

Tom said: “I’ve worked for CAMRA for more than a decade so it’s an organisation I deeply understand and hold a great affection for… My job now is to help our national executive develop the strategy to continue CAMRA’s growth, support our branches and continue to deliver effective campaigning – especially to ensure the Pubs Code is working as intended, to protect pubs from unfair business rates and to ensure tax on beer served in pubs is reduced.”

Ken Owst has had a long and successful career in retail, and prior to joining CAMRA he served for more than three years as Director of Finance and Corporate Services and Company Secretary for a national children's' charity. Ken joined CAMRA in May of 2018 as Chief Support Officer and will continue to be responsible for support operations at CAMRA's  head office in St Albans. He will also remain as Company Secretary.

Ken added: “Since arriving at CAMRA it has been apparent that all the CAMRA staff are committed and keen to be as effective as possible in supporting our members to organise great festivals and effective campaigns across the country. We need to make sure our systems and staff continue to develop to their full potential, so they can give the most effective help to our volunteers across the country.”

CAMRA national chairman Jackie Parker said: “I am delighted that Tom and Ken will be taking up their new roles as 2019 gets underway, and am confident they’ll provide strong support for our volunteer leadership and lead our dedicated professional team at head office to build on our campaigning successes.”

There’s not much more I can add at this stage, apart from echoing the views of many other CAMRA members about being glad to see the back of Mr Page. What I will say though, is congratulations and best wishes to the two new incumbents, who I’m sure will work hard to get the Campaign for Real Ale back on track.


Etu said...

I can only assume that CAMRA will continue its in-practice neutrality over the smoking ban.

That strikes me as eminently wise. It seems to be a subject which arouses vehemently divisive passions, and is not immediately connected with the promotion of real ale.

It has also been pounced upon by those wishing - primarily in my view - to construct a specious political narrative, as part of a general right wing, retrogressive agenda.

That is - since the ban was introduced by New Labour - that it is conclusive proof that the Labour movement no longer includes people from ordinary working backgrounds, and that they are now all part of this mythical "elite", determined to destroy the landmarks and daily pleasures of working-class life. I wonder what Dennis Skinner, John Prescott, Margaret Beckett and about a hundred other Labour MPs from working backgrounds would say about that?

(Not that those who use the logic of the Ducking Stool would care in the least, whatever they said.)

Paul Bailey said...

Etu, yes CAMRA have quite sensibly maintained their neutrality over the smoking ban, but it's still attracting a lot of controversy over at another place. This is despite the blog owner denying that the latest piece of click-bait has anything to do with the subject.

I don't want to spark a debate about the ban here, so I won't say anything more. It's ancient history as far as I am concerned.