ONE OF the most innovative schemes for rural development - Prince Charles' the Pub is the Hub programme - is due for large-scale expansion, it was announced at the weekend.
The Prince launched the scheme four years ago - and in doing so, dropped in for a pint at the local in Stainforth, near Settle - after thousands of country pubs closed for business, many of them to be converted into private houses.
And although he is somewhat busy with other matters at present, he took time to announce the creation of a nationwide support network to help licensees expand their pubs to incorporate shops, post offices, social centres and Internet meeting points in villages and hamlets in danger of losing local facilities.
Announcing the expansion of the scheme, he commented: "Since I started the Pub is the Hub initiative four years ago, I have been overwhelmed by the determination of so many villages to keep their pub at the centre of their communities, despite all the pressures.
"I have been fortunate to visit a number of successful examples and the ingenuity which has been shown by so many to keep pubs alive by providing essential local services has been quite remarkable."
One of the new advice centers is being set up by Business in the Community in Harrogate. For more information, see www.pubisthehub.org.uk