Local pub in Plymouth could be saved by new law
A NEW law could be used to save a community pub from being sold off as student accommodation.
It would be the first such use in Plymouth of the Localism Act, which became law this year – but city lawyers need to "stop dragging their heels", says a councillor backing the bid.
The Friendship Inn in Greenbank is threatened with closure after its owners went into liquidation. Pubfolio Ltd, which owned 219 tenanted pubs, collapsed in 2009.
The administrators, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, put the Friendship on the market with Christie and Co for £165,000.
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Last night Christies said the property on the corner of Amity Street and Armada Street was under offer.
Landlord Bill Light fears that the pub could be turned into student rooms. He has enlisted the support of regulars, and local councillor Steve Ricketts to help save the pub, where he has been the manager for nearly 17 years.
Cllr Ricketts said: "The Localism Act allows the council to save community hubs. We are using this new law to try to save a pub that has been there for generations.
"But the council's Legal Services department needs to stop dragging its heels."
He and Mr Light have gathered nearly 50 signatures and presented a request to the council. "We are losing all community facilities and hubs," Mr Ricketts said. This pub has been there since 1840 and we want to keep it. Bill wants to take it on.
Mr Light, who lives in the two-bedroom flat above the pub, said: "I believe Christies has had bids from people who want to turn it into accommodation.
"They would be taking something out of the community that the community does use." He said he was trying to raise the money to buy the pub himself.
A council spokeswoman said that under the Community Asset part of the Localism Act a building or piece of land could be listed, which would allow the community to find a way to buy it on the open market.
"This is a new area of law for local authorities and we are finalising criteria.
"Legal Services appreciates the need for speed. However we have explained to Cllr Ricketts that before we validate a nomination application we need details and evidence about the community body putting the proposal forward.
"Cllr Ricketts has provided some of the information required but not the detail of how this body is run."