‘Unite to save pubs’ plea as Sporle residents fight for their local

Communities are being urged to back their pubs as another village starts a fight to keep its local
Communities are being urged to back their pubs as another village starts a fight to keep its local
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Communities across West Norfolk are being urged to come together to save and support their local pubs.

The plea came as dozens of residents attended a public meeting in Sporle this week to discuss the future of their local, the Peddars Inn, which is due to close within days.

The village is one of several across the area where pubs are either under threat or the subject of community campaigns to save them.

And a committee is now being formed to lead the process of applying to register the Peddars as an asset of community value, which supporters say would help to protect the site against potential development for alternative uses, such as housing.

District councillor Peter Wilkinson told the meeting at the village’s community centre on Wednesday evening that support was available to help the community protect or even take over the pub itself from charities and campaigners who have led similar battles elsewhere.

But he said: “We need guidance from you. You need to set this up and see where you go.”

Fellow councillor Ian Sherwood added: “I think time is of the essence.”

However, there was a unanimous show of hands when residents were asked whether they believed there was a value in keeping the pub open to the community.

The Peddars, which was a finalist in the West Norfolk CAMRA branch’s pub of the year award, is currently up for sale and is due to close next weekend.

The meeting was told there had been little interest from would-be buyers so far.

And the move to register the site as a community asset follows the lead of similar campaigns across the area in recent years.

Campaigners in Northwold say they have generated around £170,000 in donations and conditional grant awards following the launch of their bid to purchase their village’s last remaining pub, the Crown, last autumn.

Meanwhile, the King’s Arms at Shouldham, which was saved following a long-running community campaign and recently beat the Peddars to be named the area’s pub of the year for an unprecendented third straight year, has lodged expansion plans with West Norfolk Council.

And North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham yesterday highlighted the success of the Dabbling Duck at Great Massingham, which was saved from closure in 2006, as an example of what is possible for venues like the Peddars.

He suggested the government should review planning rules to make it harder for developers to secure a change of use for pub sites, usually for housing.

But, while he acknowledged the need for landlords to ensure their businesses meet customers’ needs, he said communities themselves have a crucial role.

He said: “Pubs are a unique part of our heritage and our rural way of life.

“When a village pub is closed, it can be the last thing that’s open. I can think of villiages in the constituency that haven’t got anything and the heart of the community has been taken away.”And the move to register the site as a community asset follows the lead of similar campaigns across the area in recent years.

Campaigners in Northwold say they have generated around £170,000 in donations and conditional grant awards following the launch of their bid to purchase their village’s last remaining pub, the Crown, last autumn.

Meanwhile, the King’s Arms at Shouldham, which was saved following a long-running community campaign and recently beat the Peddars to be named the area’s pub of the year for an unprecendented third straight year, has lodged expansion

plans with West Norfolk Council.

And North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham yesterday highlighted the success of the Dabbling Duck at

Great Massingham, which was saved from closure in 2006, as an example of what is possible for venues like the

Peddars.

He suggested the government should review planning rules to make it harder for developers to secure a change of use for pub sites, usually for housing.

But, while he acknowledged the need for landlords to ensure their businesses meet customers’ needs, he said communities themselves have a crucial role.

He said: “Pubs are a unique part of our heritage and our rural way of life.

“When a village pub is closed, it can be the last thing that’s open.

“I can think of villiages in the constituency that haven’t got anything and the heart of the community has been taken away.”