A CHRISTMAS plea has gone out to BBC presenter Chris Evans to return an ‘unloved’ pub to the community.
At Chichester District Council’s full council meeting, Easebourne and Lodsworth councillor Elizabeth Hamilton made a heartfelt plea for him to unboard the Lickfold Inn, in Lodsworth.
“I have a message for Chris Evans – this is the season of Christmas – goodwill to all men.
“With your goodwill we could have the Lickfold Inn reopened for Easter.
“Chris, in this spirit of goodwill why not contact us and enable this local community to have their pub back?”
The inn is a grade II-listed former coaching inn and was brought by the breakfast DJ in 2007, but he then closed it three years later, saying he could not justify keeping it open.
“The local community are most concerned that this historic building, now situated in the South Downs National Park, is still boarded up and deteriorating,” Cllr Hamilton added.
“They would like their pub back.”
She told the meeting that for three years the Lickfold Inn had been on the market, but it was ‘quickly taken off the market’ following an offer from a ‘local businessman’.
“And now it is sitting there unheated and unloved through another winter.”
Mr Evans also owns a pub at Chiddingfold, named the Mulberry Inn.
The meeting heard that the parish council had applied to have the Lickfold Inn registered as a community asset, under the localism act.
However, council officers had been unable to gain access to the pub to see what sort of state it was in inside, as it remained boarded up and inaccessible.
“Our Chichester District Council historic buildings advisor Dr Ian Wightman and his South Downs National Park Authority counterpart Michael Scammell have been unable to gain admittance to inspect the listed building to see if it is being maintained in a proper state of repair.
“My question is how much longer are the planning department going to wait before action is taken to preserve this historic building for the next generation? Is this not the whole idea of listing?”
Cabinet member for housing and planning Carol Purnell said she would investigate the matter.
Residents have campaigned for months to get the pub returned to the community and it has been an issue high on the parish council’s agenda.
An internet search for the Lickfold Inn brings up a top search result entitled Lickfold Inn, with a website address www.evanspubs.co.uk, however, clicking on this link redirects you to Mr Evans’ Chiddingfold pub, which has the address www.themulberryinn.co.uk