Drinkers launch pub SOS campaign

MELTON: A campaign has been launched to re-open an historic village pub in a bid to stop it being sold off for private housing.

MELTON: A campaign has been launched to re-open an historic village pub in a bid to stop it being sold off for private housing.

Geof Butterwick, chairman of Melton Parish Council, is hoping a white knight will save the Horse and Groom in Yarmouth Road.

The Grade II 18th century property was boarded up earlier this month and the freehold is up for sale with Christie and Co for �250,000.

Mr Butterwick is now looking for an investor or a group to establish a community business which could take over the running of the pub, which is owned by Punch Taverns.

However, he admits that it will be no easy task because of “years of neglect” and a lack of funding from the company.

He said: “Given the facilities, location and potential of the Horse and Groom, the asking price of �250,000 for the freehold seems exceptionally low - about the price of an average three-bed house in the village.

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“However, years of neglect have seen both the kitchen and the letting rooms fall below standard, and then to close.”

Mr Butterwick said he believed a potential buyer had come forward but with the intention of converting the pub to a private house.

“He has, however, given the community until Christmas to find someone willing to purchase it to run as a pub, or to form a community business to do the same,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns said: “Following a review, a decision has been taken to sell the Horse and Groom and we are currently in negotiations with interested parties. The property is being sold with no restrictive covenants, therefore the option to continue operating the Horse and Groom as a pub remains, should the purchaser wish to do so.”

Anyone interested in finding out more details or helping out with the campaign can contact Mr Butterwick on 01394 385709 or at cllr.butterwick@melton-suffolk-pc.gov.uk.

Are you concerned about the closure of so many pubs in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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