MP Elizabeth Truss and villagers turnout to campaign for Garboldisham pub

A large crowd, including a local MP, gathered outside a boarded up Norfolk village pub last Friday to show support for a campaign to revive the popular inn.

Approximately 200 Garboldisham villagers met with Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk and Breckland district councillor William Nunn to discuss the future of The Fox Inn alongside the A1066, which closed five years ago but has been the subject of a long-running campaign by residents to get it reopened as a community pub.

In December 2010, the villagers launched a campaign to buy the Grade II listed 18th century pub from owners Wellington Pub Company and a committee was set up to create a business plan.

However, the owners turned down the committee's offers for the pub, although there have been applications to convert the dilapidated building, most notably by Wellesley Capital Investment which wanted to build three houses but the plans were refused by Breckland Council.

One option is for Breckland Council to take out a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to buy the land without the consent of the owner to improve the site.

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Campaigner Janet Hance said residents feared losing a vital amenity in a visible location next to a single carriageway.

She added: 'People in the village are either fed up because they have lost their pub or because it is an eyesore and is affecting house prices in what is a lovely village.'

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David Fulcher, of Back Street, Garboldisham was among the crowd supporting the campaign. He added: 'The pub is very important, it is at the heart of the community really.'

And Cindy Waldron, of Manor Road, Garboldisham, who has lived in the village for three years, said: 'Lots of people come here to meet their friends and the pub is such an integral part of village life.'

Ms Truss pledged to put pressure on the pub company to make a decision on the pub's future and said she would work with Breckland councillors to look at the options available for the site, which could include the CPO.

She said: 'I think it is a great campaign and I think the level of support here tonight just shows how many people want somewhere they can meet locally and enjoy themselves. This should be a sign to the pub company and the local community that there is a pub needed at this site.'

Mr Nunn said the council also wanted to retain the pub and said a CPO was a possibility if the pub company was not prepared to reopen it or return it to the community. He added: 'We recognise as an authority that this is a key part of the community.'

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