RESIDENTS determined not to see a centuries-old pub fall in to ruin have held a public meeting to talk about the future of their village inn.
The Lickfold Inn was bought in 2007 by Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2 breakfast presenter and host of BBC1’s The One Show, but he closed the pub in 2010 after claiming he could ‘no longer justify keeping the Lickfold open’.
About a fortnight ago, villagers noticed the pub had been boarded up.
“It is just another step downhill,” said Chris Marks, who was the chairman at Tuesday night’s well-attended public meeting at neighbouring pub, The Noah’s Ark, in Lurgashall.
“It has always been a very well-known and much-loved pub so it is a real pity to see it literally rotting.
“Everyone in the area wants the building to stay as a pub.
“But there is a very small matter that we haven’t yet explored – that the pub will be sold as a house.
“But we don’t think that will happen – it’s been a pub for such a long time.
“I spoke to someone who had done the maths, however, and even when it was doing badly it was still turning over around £40,000.
“A number of people have looked into buying it. We know two sets of people who were set to make offers.”
Mr Marks received an email from one of Chris Evans’s accountants, Kirit Doshi, which said they were still looking for people to make an offer on the pub, and would welcome anyone to do so.
Chris Evans reportedly bought the pub for more than £1m. The asking price for the property is now in the region of £825,000.
“I just don’t think the staff were up to it,” said Mr Marks.
“There were problems with the front-of-house staff. It’s not like the pub would struggle to get custom. Both pubs in the area, The Noah’s Ark and The Duke of Cumberland, are always over-booked at the weekend so it would get the support it needed to run. We need some movers and shakers to try to sort out what we can do about this place.
“The whole community just want to keep their local pub, they don’t want to see it fall down in front of their eyes when there is a strong possibility of saving it.”