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Supermarket chain which plans to demolish North Somerset pub dismisses ‘incentive’ claims

PUBLISHED: 12:49 06 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:49 06 April 2017

Members of the campaign to save the Lord Nelson.

Members of the campaign to save the Lord Nelson.

Archant

The owner of a North Somerset pub which is set to be demolished has hit back at claims in the village it has ‘incentivised locals to back its plans’.

The Lord Nelson, Cleeve. The Lord Nelson, Cleeve.

The Lord Nelson in Cleeve is set to be knocked down and replaced with a petrol station and convenience store, if Cheddar-based owner Tout Ltd – which operates Budgens stores in the area – can secure planning permission.

At a public meeting on the pub’s future this week, residents raised their concerns on how the proposals could impact the village.

Many residents aired fears over the increased traffic, noise and pollution which could result if Tout Ltd’s proposals come to fruition.

Residents also claimed Tout Ltd had offered home improvements to the owner of a nearby property in return for support for its proposals.

The Lord Nelson, which used to operate as a Hungry Horse pub, was sold by Greene King last year. The Lord Nelson, which used to operate as a Hungry Horse pub, was sold by Greene King last year.

Don Veale, spokesman for the campaign to save the pub, said: “There have been reports visits have been made by Tout Ltd to at least one representative to incentivise locals to back its plans.”

But Jon Tout, managing director of Tout Ltd, dismissed the claims.

He said: “As the new owners of the Lord Nelson site, we were approached by one of our neighbours who asked for access to our property so they could carry out repairs to their fence and wall.

“We agreed. That’s what good neighbours do. Apparently, his previous requests to former owner Greene King had not been fruitful.

“We are perfectly happy to have similar discussions with other neighbours who share a boundary wall with our site.”

Mr Tout was criticised for not attending the meeting at Cleeve Village Hall.

Mr Veale added: “It speaks volumes that no representatives from his company attended.

“I accept Jon Tout may have had plans which meant he couldn’t attend but that’s no excuse that no-one from his company attended.

“That speaks volumes for his respect for the local community.”

Mr Tout said he was ‘very disappointed’ people were ‘misinformed’ over his absence.

He said “I am the only person who can speak about the proposals in any detail.

“We only learned about the meeting after it had been publicised to the community. The parish council was immediately informed I would be in hospital on the date of the meeting having a hernia operation.

“We asked whether it could be delayed and were told the date had been selected by the parish council and the meeting would have to proceed without me.”

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