SOUTH Hinksey residents battling to save the community’s last pub from being turned into a house say they could put up their own money to help it reopen.

The General Elliot closed in autumn 2008. Its owner, the Vale Brewery, based in Brill, near Bicester, said there was not enough custom to justify reopening the pub.

The brewery has applied for planning permission to convert the building into a five-bedroom house.

But villagers say the Manor Road pub was run into the ground by its last landlord, and have offered to set up a fund to help revive the business.

They have set up their own ‘mock pub’, meeting at each other’s homes, and say the scheme’s popularity proves the General Elliot could survive.

Adrian Porter, 32, of Manor Road, said: “There’s huge support for the pub in the village. It’s the heart of the community for us.

“We want this planning application to be turned down, and then work out how we can help reopen the pub.”

Mr Porter added: “We want to use the community support, and put together a business plan and go back to Vale Brewery.

“If households in the village can give £500, we could get a fund together to give a financial start to putting the pub back in operation.

“It would show we are prepared to commit to the pub, and then maybe the investors could get a 10 per cent discount on prices for a year.”

He added: “There really is a mood to do this, but it’s a question of formalising it and doing it properly.

“We also need to talk to Vale Brewery, because if they’re not interested, then we will have to try some other ideas.

“There are probably some 20 households willing to put in £500 each into the pub, which would give Vale £10,000 to help reopen it.”

In a submission to Vale of White Horse District Council on the plan to convert the pub into a house, South Hinksey Parish Council said the brewery had failed to prove the pub was not viable and had hampered potential buyers from taking over the pub.

It said residents had stopped drinking there because of the behaviour of the previous landlord.

In the document, villagers outline a series of incidents and say the pub was kept in a poor condition.

One villager is quoted as saying: “We tried our best to visit the pub as often as possible but were put off by the landlord, who was argumentative, negative and was in the habit of ‘barring’ local residents from the pub for no apparent reason.”

A spokesman for Vale Brewery said it would not comment on any allegations or the future of the pub.

A date has yet to be set for a decision to be made on the planning application.