Ribchester residents are banding together in a bid to protect their beloved village pub, the historic White Bull.
This follows a public meeting and another one with directors of the pub’s owners, Enterprise Inns, following a lengthy closure and short lived re-opening.
Around 50 residents of the village have subsequently decided to form “The Friends of the White Bull”, the first meeting of which will be held soon.
Resident Christopher Ratcliff described the saga surrounding the pub as having all the hallmarks of a television “soap” and said it had left residents “dismayed”.
He said residents have criticised the owners for letting the pub stand empty and un-tenanted for 22 months after the previous tenants left, “ostensibly because the owners had raised the rental to an uneconomic level”.
He said: “Last October, two new tenants, Jim and Christine were appointed as managers of the premises, instead of being merely the tenants. In our eyes, this heralded a hopeful new scenario. We welcomed both of them, at an initial launch party. But after only 12 weeks, they suddenly left. Their efforts to build up a business were clearly unappreciated by the owners.”
He said the public meeting was called by resident Marc Mallam “to identify what had gone wrong, and what pressure the village could exert or help to put it right,” after which the meeting with Enterprise was held.
Mr Mallam said everyone was fed up with the situation and the closure had created “a huge black hole”. While they awaited further news he said they would help whoever was behind the bar, currently a couple called Sue and Paul.
An Enterprise spokesman said they were committed to making the pub a success and have accepted the residents’ offer to help find a suitable publican, adding that “in return” they they hoped residents would support and frequent it.