Report by James Franklin
Monday, August 6, 2012
A PUB that has stood at the heart of a community for more than 70 years looks set to be turned into a Tesco Express.
The Bristol House in Milton Road closed its doors for the last time on July 25 and its owners are currently in discussions with the supermarket giant over plans to develop it as a new store.
It has provoked an angry reaction, both from pub regulars who have lost their social hub, and people who fear the impact of another Tesco in Weston.
They are concerned that while there are three convenience stores within walking distance that could be affected by the new Tesco, there is no pub or communal meeting space.
Landlords Alison Press and Wale Shoyinka were told two weeks ago by building owners Enterprise Inns that their lease would not be renewed, and that the pub would have to close.
A spokesman for Tesco has confirmed to the Mercury that discussions are underway between the two firms over the sale or lease of the site for use as a new store.
There are currently five Tesco stores in Weston and Locking Castle, including the superstore in Station Road.
The move has been met with dismay by those who used the pub, which was built in 1936.
One, Declan Devane, had been a regular at the pub for 36 years.
He said: “You are doing away with what is basically a village hall.
“The nearest pub is half-a-mile away and it’s too far for elderly people to walk to.”
Another, Alan Carr, who has been a regular visitor there for 40 years, said: “We don’t want a Tesco.
“If it does become a Tesco a lot of other shops in the area could close.”
Fellow pub regular Bob Lewes-Johns said: “It’s a big shame – it’s going to be a big loss to the community.”
Former landlady Ms Press, who had run the pub for the past three years, said: “I think it’s sad because all of the community pubs are closing and it’s not the fault of the pubs, it’s the fault of places like Tesco and Asda that sell extremely cheap alcohol.
“It was a bit of a shock, we knew our contract was coming up but we had put offers in to buy the pub in the past but Enterprise always rejected our offers.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “We have had initial discussions with Enterprise Inns, but as yet no lease has been agreed.”
And a spokesman for Enterprise Inns said: “We are evaluating our options and we are unable to confirm our plans at this stage.”