Wednesday, 21 August 2019
BENSON Parish Council is to explore the possibility of buying one of the village’s two pubs despite reservations from some members.
The Crown Inn in High Street is owned by Suffolk brewer Greene King, which is offering the freehold for £495,000.
The council, which previously had the pub listed as an asset of community value, wants to re-register it after the status expired.
Assets of community value were introduced in the 2011 Localism Act and give communities six months to bid on a property before it can be sold on the open market, although the seller doesn’t have to accept a bid.
Chairman Bill Pattison told a meeting: “I don’t see the parish council running a pub.
“It can be let out to somebody else. It’s got a very big car park and one thing we’re always talking about is there’s a lack of parking in the village centre. We could have a parish office in the village centre.”
Vice-chairwoman Patricia Baylis said it would be a good idea to further investigate the potential purchase.
But Councillor Michael Winton said: “You have to find someone to run it. If there’s nobody out there you’re left with an empty building.”
There would also be the maintenance costs as well as utility bills to take into account.
Councillor Tom Stevenson said: “I’m extremely nervous. The thing’s changed hands so many times over the years it can’t be a viable proposition to my mind.”
Councillor John Sharman agreed saying: “I’m very suspicious of doing anything more to be honest. Greene King have put the building up for sale, I think we should let market forces take their course.
“If there’s any genuine need for a pub in the village someone will come forward.”
He added that the parish council already had “so much on its plate”.
But Councillor Philip Murray said it would be a “huge pity” to not only lose the pub, but also one of the village’s key buildings.
“I understand your reservations but to knock it on the head without going and exploring a bit further would be a missed opportunity,” he said.
Members agreed to gather more information about the costs involved.
Fleurets is marketing the pub, which has six en-suite letting rooms, an enclosed courtyard and terrace and outbuildings offering “further potential”.
It has had a string of landlords in recent years.
From July 2013 until early 2016 it was run by Germaine and Tim Cullimore.
In January 2015 the Cullimores asked the parish council to consider the idea of the pub becoming community owned, saying they could no longer make a living from the business.
In March 2016 it was taken over by Gary Flux, who runs the Shepherd’s Hut in Ewelme, but he left in September.
Since December the Crown has been managed by Tim Harwood who said takings were increasing and the accommodation had been re-opened.
29 July 2019
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