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PM backs village battle to buy pub
RESIDENTS are trying to raise £275,000 to save the last remaining pub in their village.
The pub campaign in Hailey, near Witney, is already more than a third of the way to the total after raising £100,000 in pledges from its first meeting, and has won backing from the Prime Minister.
The Grade II listed Lamb & Flag is in the village conservation area and is being sold by owners Greene King. The current tenancy ends in September.
Nicola McConville, who lives in Middletown, Hailey, said: “There is a lot of concern that whoever purchases it may not want to run it as a pub.
“If that happens the village, which has a very active and strong community, will lose a really valuable amenity. A village pub plays a fairly vital role in the character and strength of a community and it would be devastating if we lost it.
“But when you get £100,000 on the back of a one-hour meeting, that says something about the level of support there is for this initiative.”
She added: “It is a building in the centre of the village and therefore can be used for a number of things.
“We may include a cafe, so mums dropping off children at school have somewhere to go, and there is currently nowhere in Hailey for teenagers to hang out.”
The group’s first meeting last week attracted about 200 villagers.
Mrs McConville said: “We are looking to form a social enterprise where the community would buy the pub then let it out to the tenant. They would pay rent and, together maybe with a share of the profits, we would pay interest to our shareholders and maintain a fund for the upkeep of the building.
“Any excess money would be ploughed back into community projects.
“It is being marketed at £275,000 so we have a long way to go. What we would love to find is a white knight, who will be prepared to underwrite the share offer.
“We would be looking to interview a tenant so they could be put in place possibly on October 1, once the existing tenancy has expired.”
PM and Witney MP David Cameron said: “I’m pleased to support the Hailey community in their efforts. I have always said that West Oxfordshire is a hub of the enterprising, Big Society spirit and this campaign to save the Lamb & Flag is another wonderful example.”
Greene King spokesman Lucy Clegg said: “The Lamb & Flag is on the market as a public house. Following an extensive property review it was felt that the pub did not fit into our long-term plans.
“The Lamb & Flag will remain open for business as usual until a suitable buyer is found.
“We look forward to continuing to serve our customers in the meantime.”
To contact Hailey Pub Campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org