Thursday, 20 January 2022

Residents fear for future of pub after sale

Residents fear for future of pub after sale

A PUB in Wargrave has been sold but there are fears over its future.

Ei, formerly Enterprise Inns, has confirmed it has sold the freehold of the Greyhound in High Street but would not reveal the name of the buyer other than that they were “local”.

Some residents are worried that the pub could be turned into housing so they want it be officially protected. They say that the pub, which is still trading, is iconic and it would be a travesty if it closed.

However, retiring tenant landlord Steve Linstead has rubbished their claims.

Villagers John Lion, Niamh Sandford and Stephen Porter have made an application to Wokingham Borough Council, the planning authority, for the pub to be listed as an asset of community value.

Mr Lion said: “The Greyhound is fundamental, especially for all the old boys who live alone — they need somewhere they can come for a pint and chat.”

Miss Sandford said: “A lot of young adults use the pub, too. Many parents are happy for them to drink in the Greyhound as it means they’re safer in a local bar where they can walk home.

“Parents are also concerned about the rising number of drink-spiking cases across the UK in more built-up areas, such as Reading, since the lifting of lockdown restrictions in July. They just think that their children will be so much safer nearer to home.”

Mr Porter said he had received numerous emails and letters of support for the Save the Greyhound

He said: “They really speak for themselves and range from locals who have lived in Wargrave for more than 30 years to ex-residents and visitors.

“We have also received support from the Campaign for Real Ale, with whom we are organising a meeting to see if they can help us campaign against the possible closure of the pub.”

The business has been run for more than 25 years by Mr Linstead and his wife Laraine with their son Phil.

Mr Linstead has wanted to retire for the past two years and hoped to sell the lease.

In a statement, he said: “The submission about the Greyhound being made an asset of community value is littered with factual inaccuracies about its current use. It harks back to a long-gone era of booming pub trade and, somewhat oddly, is supported by signatories who rarely frequent the pub, if they have ever done so.

“It is very frustrating after years of the Greyhound leasehold being on the market that this objection is being made now as we are planning to retire for health reasons.

“It’s no secret that covid has hit the pub trade hard and we are no exception. We fail to understand why this group is so motivated now.

“Throughout our time in the pub, we have been inclusive, welcoming to all and supportive of community initiatives where possible. These qualities are now being used against us by this group to prevent us enjoying a happy retirement.”

A spokeswoman for Ei said: “We have accepted an offer from a local business-
person to purchase the pub, who will start its next chapter.

“We would like to thank our incumbent business partner for all their work over the years.”

Since the application to the council was made, 30 people have registered their support. To do the same, email savethe by December 2.

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