Fears for future as pub closes

Cocking villagers fear for the future of their pub after the Blue Bell closed its doors on Saturday (December 13).

It is the second pub casualty in recent weeks. The Royal Oak in the neighbouring parish of West Lavington closed suddenly in November.

Blue Bell landlord Ashley Finch, who had been in Cocking for three years, had recently been fundraising for Help for Heroes and only two weeks ago held a charity darts evening at the pub.

But on Saturday, with little warning, it closed its doors.

Chairman of the parish council Frances Russell said: "We don't want to see the pub closed and converted into accommodation. We feel there is a value to the community in having a pub-cum-something else."

She added: "Personally speaking I would love somebody to investigate the possibility of running a pub with a takeway of some sort.

"There are very limited takeaway facilities in this area and I think there could be a market which would bring business to the village and keep the pub working as a boost to the community."

A spokesperson for Admiral Taverns said: "We had to close The Blue Bell following the departure of its landlord. We intend to reopen the pub and are actively seeking a new licensee to take it on.

"Anyone who's interested in running the pub should contact us on 0845 0708950 or visit www.admiraltaverns.com for more information."

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