Landlord calls time on dying pub trade

A rural pub landlord forced to wind down his business has blamed poor commun-ity support saying "The days of the village pub have gone". One of the last public services in Foxley, The Natterjack pub and restau-rant, is due to close down and be replaced with housing.

A rural pub landlord forced to wind down his business has blamed poor commun-ity support saying "The days of the village pub have gone".

One of the last public services in Foxley, The Natterjack pub and restau-rant, is due to close down and be replaced with housing.

Landlord Tony Hunt said that only two people from the village, near Reepham, regularly used the pub and that the community had been destroyed by an influx of commuters.

The pub has been on the market since March 2005 and has not sold despite a price drop of over £20,000.

But at a recent public meeting of more than 40 villagers there was over-whelming support for keeping the pub open.

The pub opened in 1977 as the Queen's silver jubilee in was celebrated and has since been called the Foxley Bull, before being renamed The Natterjack in 1998.

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Mr Hunt said there had been a gradual decline: "This place has had nine different landlords and three names and nobody has been able to make a go of it.

"The days of the village pub have gone. Years ago there would have been the regular old boys and darts team but there is no community support now.

"People move into the village from outside and you never see them; they are not community spirited.

"You've also got the supermarkets selling cheap alcohol and youngsters are more interested in clubbing now then going to pubs.

"It is the same with most village amenities, which are closing down because there is not the support.

"It does make me sad because I sunk all my money and time into this but it is just not a viable proposition."

John Harvey, chairman of Foxley Parish Council, said its closure would be a blow.

"Foxley only has a church, village hall and a pub so we would be reluctant to see it go and the public meeting showed that people want to keep it in the village," he said.

"We believe the pub could still be viable - the previous landlord seemed to make a good living out of it - and there are other successful pubs off the A1067."

He said the recent revival of the village hall and groups such as the indoor bowls club had rejuvenated the community but also admitted that Foxley, like most modern villages, was mostly home to commuters and the retired.

The plans to replace the pub with four detached houses will be decided on by Breckland Council.

The pub will continue to trade until work begins on replacing it and its closure will result in four job losses.