VILLAGERS embattled in a fight to save their last pub are again driving momentum after submitting a fresh bid.

In May, the Stonesfield community was given a second bite of the cherry, to purchase The White Horse.

The initial shares scheme to buy the West Oxfordshire watering hole was backed by actor Rupert Friend, who has this year starred in Netflix’s Anatomy of a Scandal, and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+.

However, the shares project was ultimately pipped by Jonathan Bowers, who completed a purchase of the pub in January 2021.

This January, he told this newspaper that he hoped the pub would reopen ‘within a couple of months’ after searching for tenants.

READ AGAIN: Last pub in the village will reopen ‘in months’

The village community has now tabled a bid of £385,000 to Mr Bowers, with various events planned to gather support.

Steve Callaghan, chair of the Stonesfield Community Pub steering committee, said: “We’ve made a bid for the price that was paid for the pub in January 2021.

“From the land registry, we know that’s how much was paid for it.

“Quite a few people asked for their money back last time, so our job is to now get people to buy shares.

Oxford Mail: The White Horse in Stonesfield. Picture: Ed NixThe White Horse in Stonesfield. Picture: Ed Nix

“The next steps are to get as many shares as possible and raise publicity.

“Although something has gone in our village magazine, the Stonesfield Slate, and on Facebook, you have to keep plugging away to keep it at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

“We’ve got the full support of the village, everyone is keen to get the pub open again.

“I can’t take my dog for a walk down the road without at least two or three people asking me where things are at.

“The asset of community value means he has to be transparent with the plans.”

Mr Callaghan added that villagers have until October 26 to use the pub’s asset of community value status, before Mr Bowers can sell the pub to other bidders.

Oxford Mail: The White Horse in Stonesfield. Picture: Ed NixThe White Horse in Stonesfield. Picture: Ed Nix

Witney MP Robert Courts said: “I am pleased that the campaign to reopen The White Horse as a successful village pub, which has my full support, is making progress.

“It is encouraging that, thanks to an incredible effort from Stonesfield residents, sufficient funds have been raised for the community to put in a bid for the pub. I hope that this bid will be looked upon favourably by the owner.

“I will continue to support the local community in their efforts to ensure Stonesfield boasts a pub which the entire village can enjoy and be proud of.”

Mr Bowers has been contacted but was unable to provide comment prior to publication.

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

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