IT IS the last chance saloon: residents in Risinghurst have launched a final appeal today for neighbours to help save their local before “last orders” are called tonight.
A group of pub lovers are hoping to buy CS Lewis’s former watering hole, the Ampleforth Arms, so it doesn’t get turned into flats.
In September they managed to get the pub declared an “asset of community value” under the Localism Act 2011, which stopped Punch Taverns from selling it for six months.
The group created the Amp Community Pub Ltd as a vehicle to raise money and buy the historic local, but as the sale-freeze thaws out at the end of today, they are still hunting for investors.
Campaign chairwoman Lynn Simms, 55, said it was “now or never” for people to come forward and save the Downside Road pub from being developed into flats.
Mrs Simms, who has lived on the estate for more than 30 years added: “We are running out of time, but we are appealing for people who want to buy shares to come to a meeting and get involved.
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“We have spent hours of our own time working on a business plan to get the pub back open for the community and we think we can do it.
“The Amp has been a big part of Risinghurst of the years and we want that to continue.”
The Amp Community Pub Ltd is still planning to meet potential investors on March 18 at the Risinghurst Community Centre, in Kiln Lane at 6.30pm. However, before that meeting, Mrs Simms said the group needed to put a formal offer to Punch Taverns to see what their valuation of the dormant ale house was.
She would not reveal how much her group had so far raised.
She added: “If this doesn’t work we will have to think of something else. There is lots of successful community pubs so it can be done.
“We will put an offer in and go from there. But we still welcome as many people as possible to get involved.”
Punch originally put the Amp on the market for £625,000 when it shut its doors in June after 75 years.
The pub opened in 1939 and according to CS Lewis expert Ronald Brind, it was frequented by the Narnia author and fellow writer JRR Tolkien.
At least three pubs in Oxfordshire have been bought and run as community companies – the White Hart in Wolvercote, the Bull Inn, Great Milton, and the Seven Stars in Marsh Baldon.