End of the line for village’s pub takeover bid?

The Red Lion
The Red Lion

Bloxham looks set to fail in its bid to buy and run its own community hub in the disused Red Lion pub.

Fuller’s Brewery has rejected a claim that its fear of missing out on potential development profits had halted the village’s plan to renovate the pub and run it as a community meeting place, pub and restaurant.

The hub committee is adamant a ‘first charge’ on the property – ensuring for 25 years Fuller’s would get 70 per cent of any increase in property value ahead of any other debts – would prevent any bank advancing money for renovations.

Committee chairman Colin Challenger said Fuller’s director Peter Turner had been expressly told that this would end any hopes of the project being successful.

Since December, supporters have pooled investment in chunks of £250 to amass £300,000 which was offered to Fuller’s.

Georgina Wald, of Fuller’s, said: “We hadn’t accepted the offer. We had a number of substantially higher offers, but we held back in order to facilitate the purchase by the Bloxham Red Lion Hub Limited (BRLHL). We were under the impression we had reached an agreement, safeguarding the future of the pub and providing the ability to develop the outbuildings, but in return for accepting a significantly reduced price we did have a condition around an enhanced payment should BRLHL choose to close the pub and change its use or further develop the site. BRLHL has rejected this. As a result we are now close to agreeing terms with another party.”

Mr Challenger said: “What rendered Fuller’s most unusually onerous condition impossible was its insistence its overage should be protected by a first charge over the property. That meant the village could not buy because it would be unable for 25 years to secure any commercial loan against the property.”

Ms Wald said the brewery had made other sales using the first charge clause and it had not prevented those buyers borrowing investment money.