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Pub campaigners fight to stop shop plan

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 June 2016

Campaigners are rallying against the proposed closure of an 80-year-old Weston-super-Mare pub, which looks set to become a branch of a supermarket food chain.

The same campaigners successfully fought off Tesco when it tried to buy the Bristol House in Milton Road in 2012, but now the pub looks set to become a Co-operative store.

After the pub’s owner, Enterprise Inns, lost planning permission to develop the pub and Tesco decided not to take over the site, the pub re-opened in 2014 and has been running since.

But, shortly after this scheme fell through, Enterprise decided the pub was not ‘financially viable’ and searched for an alternative occupant to lease the building.

A spokesman from Enterprise said: “Unfortunately trade at our venue, the Bristol House Inn, has fallen to such an extent in recent years that we do not believe it can continue to trade successfully as a licensed premises.

“After careful consideration of options, we decided to explore alternative uses for the property and have agreed a lease for the site with the Co-operative which will secure the property’s future and see it continue as a local community asset.”

Mark Thyer, who spearheaded the Save The Bristol House campaign back in 2012, is now hoping to once again save the pub from closure.

He said the closure would ‘destroy the lives’ of those using the pub – which he says is a social hub for many neighbours.

He said: “People have christenings, weddings and funerals in the pub. We had a charity event there last week and raised lots of money for the ambulance service.

“It is a well-attended pub, the takings have doubled since the new manager has been there.

“We understand it is up for sale but it should be sold within the industry. There will be someone out there who wants to run it as a pub, but Enterprise seems hell-bent on sterilising it as a pub.

“Under a good operator this pub can do well and they are wrong to close their eyes to that. It is terrible to see these things happen.”

A petition against Tesco taking over the pub was signed by 3,000 people in 2012 and Mr Thyer says the strength of feeling still exists.

A Co-operative spokesman said: “It is our belief that a new store would greatly improve the shopping options for residents, providing – for example – a wide selection of fresh and chilled products and in-store bakery, all within walking distance.

“A new store will also create a number of new full and part-time jobs, which will be targeted at local residents and offer a variety of skills and training programmes.

“Alongside Enterprise Inns we have informed councillors of our proposals, and we will start our community consultation this week. Residents will also be able to have their say through the planning application process.”

To find out more about the campaign, contact Mr Thyer on markthey@aol.com or search for The Bristol House Inn on Facebook.

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