Last Friday Greene King confirmed the fact that they were reinstating Harveys to the Lewes Arms, and announced a date when the beer would be drinkable - Thursday April 26th (it needs time to settle in the keg after being put in the cellar). A party has been arranged by the Friends of the Lewes Arms, whose dogged campaign forced Greene King into their U-turn, on Friday April 27th. The boycott of the pub over the last five months by its regulars worked - there were never more than a handful of customers there even on weekend evenings - but it is unlikely that the loss of revenue was the prime factor that forced the Suffolk-based brewing giant into their volte-face. They could have afforded to have withstood the siege for a lot longer.
What they didn’t bargain for was the nature of the clientele in the pub. They wouldn’t have dreamt of the organisational capacity and media- saviness of the LA regulars, who immediately set up a well constructed website and designed and produced a variety of campaign paraphernalia.
Among the FOLA lot there were a number of journalists who were able to get the issue into the national media, which is where Greene King really started getting hurt. Photo-calls were arranged at the drop of a hat for national newspapers, from the Financial Times to the Guardian - whenever Greene King were mentioned in the press, there was a picture of FOLA members outside the pub accompanying the piece, like an albatross around the corporate giant’s neck. On the very day of GK’s final capitulation reporters from Der Spiegel had arrived in town to cover the story. Greene King’s well-manicured image was going down the pan.
Congratulations to everybody concerned in the campaign, a victory for the common people over corporate greed, and a lesson to everybody about how we can stand up and be counted. As long as we manage to get media coverage, that is.