As incoming editor of ALE it would have been very nice to start my tenure with a "good news" story. I'm afraid I feel compelled not to do this, for whilst there are undoubtedly good things happening out there, the destruction of our city pubs continues unabated.

As I write, The Osborne Arms, Hills Road, is in the process of being demolished. The loss of another pub is bad enough, but even more importantly it looks like the pub in the building next door, the excellent Flying Pig, may swiftly follow. Our esteemed MP Julian Huppert may well have called for a conservation order to save The Pig, but this appears to offer little protection, as seen by The Osborne, which was "protected" by a similar order.

Further news from the Dog and Pheasant (Saigon City) in Chesterton suggests that the bulldozers will be moving in at the end of October. With The Haymakers closed and The Penny Ferry also under development threat, this leaves only one pub, The Green Dragon, serving the whole of Chesterton.

The Bird (In Hand) on Newmarket Road looked destined to become an estate agent - a change of use that seem to be happening overnight, and despite of it being, in the words of Steevo the ex-licensee, "a viable pub." A last-minute reprieve has seen it placed on the market with Greene King looking for a buyer.

To give the City Council credit, they are putting up some opposition. The developers wishing to replace The Royal Standard in Mill Road with student accommodation has been forced to appeal after councillors overturned a planning officer decision to let them go ahead, and we hear that The Carpenters Arms, Victoria Road is to open shortly after undergoing a similar process.

Following on from the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and in response to public opinion, the City Council has issued a draft Interim Planning Policy Guidance (IPPG). They believe it will offer pubs greater protection from profiteering development. Cambridge CAMRA is not sure, however, that the IPPG is protection enough, and in this issue, Ali Cook, our Public Affairs Officer, tells you why.

Another "saved" pub, The Unicorn in Cherry Hinton has been placed on the market for an asking price of £295,000. It remains under threat until a buyer can be found.

Further a field, The Black Bull in Sawston, last year noted for the excellent quality of beer and an entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2013, is now a Chinese take away. I understand that the owners have plans to return it to a pub as soon as someone suitable is found to run it.

But I did mention that there is some good news too: Congratulations to Steve and Hayley Pellegrini, on the opening of the new 200 capacity "gig" room in The Portland Arms, Mitcham's Corner. The Portland is a Greene King pub, but the couple also support "Locale" brewers, in The Hopbine, Fair Street, which they also manage, and where a recent successful beer festival has attracted more trade.

Talking of beer festivals, The Mill, Mill Lane has just completed an offering of 32 real ales, the majority of which were from local brewers. 2 more hand pumps have been added to the bar proper, raising the total of real ales on sale to 6, with one real cider on hand pump. The Pickerel Inn, Magdalene Street has just completed a 14-day beer festival, off the back of a 13-day cider festival.

The Maypole, Park Street is adding 8 more hand pumps to the rear bar in very near future, taking the total possible offering to 16 real ales, though the number of ales available may depend on the season.

The Jolly Scholar looks to be re-opening in January. I understand that the new owners are advertising for an experienced brewer, and have plans to turn the hitherto underused bar area into a brewpub. Less reliable sources tell me that The Med, Perne Road, may be considering something along the same lines. 2 brewpubs in Cambridge would be most welcome!

And from our travelling correspondents...

Congratulations to the villages of Horningsea and Thriplow, both of which have managed to gain ownership of their local pubs. The Plough and Fleece at Horningsea has been acquired on a short lease until the village can raise the 239,000 asking price. A company of 71 villagers have bought the freehold to The Green Man, at Thriplow. Extensive building works are planned, but the new owners asked us to reassure customers that they are still open for business. (The food is to be recommended - Ed).

Rumours that David Short is finally handing over the keys to The Queens Head Newton to his son, Robert in October are not founded. David and his family are celebrating 50 years of the Short family being in residence, and 40 continuous years of the pub being included in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide - one of only 7 pubs in the UK to do so. David's refusal to retire means that Laurie at the Bees-in-the -Wall, Whittlesford, will have to wait a little bit longer before he becomes the longest serving licensee still active in our district, having spent 30 years behind the bar.

The Boot, Dullingham is holding a Winter Beer Festival Fri/Sat/Sun 23/24/25 November. 15 beers will be available with music on Friday and Saturday night.

The Three Blackbirds, Wood Ditton, staged a harvest market mid-September. Visitors were invited to sample cheese and wine from the Pub menu; hopefully they will do it again in the near future.

The White Swan at Quy hosted the first Quy beer festival in early September. Proceeds from sales of the official programme - described by our correspondent as " A work of art.' went to the Castle School in Cambridge. Beers were mostly Locale, with samples from all of the Cambridge brewers. Unusually, four beers from France were also on offer.

The Bell, Bottisham has been fitted with a resplendent new timber bar. Our correspondent recommends the Greene King beers in this pub, which are, he says, always top quality.

The Tickell Arms, Whittlesford has introduced Nethergate IPA, Umbel Ale and Old Growler to accompany a regular beer from Milton Brewery.

In The Hole in the Wall, Little Wilbraham, our reporter noticed " an uneasy fraternisation" between drinkers and diners, "A sub-division is employed in the shape of a settle type seating, transforming the main bar area into a restaurant extension, leaving drinkers to stand at the bar in front of the open fireplace. The theory is that this would change if the number of drinkers warranted it. However, some drinkers would be deterred by the constant comings and goings of waiters etc..." It may be worth the inconvenience though, as he later describes the selection of beers as "excellent"!

Greene King is looking for a new tenant for The White Swan in Conington, which is currently closed. Just down the road, The Poacher in Elsworth is gaining a good reputation for it's changing range of real ales and good value food.

Welcome to, Barry and Jo Oakes who took over The Red Lion, Swaffham Prior, in early September, to Billy Johnson, who now holds the reins at The Plough in Duxford, and to Phil and Lynn, the new licensees of The Three Hills at Bartlow. We wish you well in your new ventures and will be out to see you soon.

And finally, Congratulations to Milton Brewery whose Pegasus bitter won a bronze award in the best bitter category of Champion Beer of Britain 2012 at The Great British Beer Festival.

CAMRA Correspondents:
Carl Woolf
Matthias Miller
Terry Smith
Tony Millins
We depend greatly on Branch members alerting us to what's going on in our local pubs - interesting beers, new initiatives, possible threats etc We now have a dedicated email address to which any news can be sent, please - pub-news@cambridge- camra.org.uk