Villagers begin bid to save historic pub
RESIDENTS of Ratley village met yesterday (Wednesday) in a bid to save an historic community pub.
Villagers gathered at the village hall to discuss the future of the Rose and Crown pub (pictured) which dates back to the 11th Century, but could close at the end of February if a new owner committed to running it as a pub is not found.
Owner Gary Summers said he needs to sell the building at the end of February when the current lease expires.
Mr Summers said if he cannot find a suitable buyer, he may be forced to seek planning permission to change the use of the building.
“My intention would be to sell the pub but I will support the villagers in every which way possible to sell the property as a pub,” he said.
“If that fails, I will be left with little option but to consider closing the pub and converting it.”
Many villagers say the pub is an essential village amenity.
Kevin Zwolinski who lives in the nearby village of Edge Hill, said: “This pub is well supported. No-one is going to make a million pounds on it but for the size of the pub it does fine.
“There’s an informal Friday night club and a Saturday night club and a core group of regulars who go in on Wednesday nights for a beer.
“A Church in the Pub service takes place monthly and the pub forms an integral part of village events throughout the year including a hockeyfest on New Year’s Day, the village fete and as a regular venue for the local business community.”
He added: “On a weekly basis the league-winning darts team provides regular business as do the quiz nights and in fair weather, Aunt Sally.
“It’s also a popular meeting place for walkers exploring the beautiful local countryside.”
Mr Zwolinski said he fully understands Mr Summer’s position but hopes that by meeting together villagers will be able to help him find a way to keep the pub trading. “He’s got to try to get what he can out of it,” said Mr Zwolinski.
“But the impending loss of the pub as an essential local amenity will have a negative impact on Ratley, which is very frustrating because it is well supported locally.
“A new owner is needed who actually wants to run the pub.
“A great opportunity lies ahead for an entrepreneur who would be assured of local support,” he said.
Villagers have previously expressed their support for the inn through comments submitted in response to the village plan drawn up by the parish council.
“Residents have said whole-heartedly they think the pub is an essential facility,” said Mr Zwolinski.
“Step one is to get a common message out there and then we need to gather ideas and figure out what you can do to pre-empt change of use and start to build a plan.
“It would be a dream for the pub to be run as a community asset.”
A second public meeting to discuss the future of the pub will take place at the village hall next Wednesday evening at 6.45pm.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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