Villagers gain support of MP in bid to save Beeston pub
- Credit: Ian Burt
Villagers gain support of MP in bid to save local pub
An MP has offered his support to villagers fighting to save a 16th century pub with a fascinating history.
Campaigners need to raise £350,000 to buy The Ploughshare at Beeston, near Dereham, and face a race against time with the pub's Asset of Community Value status due to expire on June 4.
This will mean the pub could then be demolished and villagers believe plans are being made to build six homes on the site.
A committee of 16 people, along with 40 helpers, are fighting to save the pub.
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And they have now received support from Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman.
In a letter to the group, he said: 'The local pub is so often the heart of village life and all of us who care about Norfolk's rural community, services and identity must support them and fight to keep those that are under threat from closure.
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'Given the huge local support for this venture as demonstrated by the turnout of over 100 people at a recent meeting at Beeston village hall, I am, as the local MP, keep to express my support for this community project and to offer to help and to publicise the project in any way that you feel would be helpful.'
The committee met on Tuesday night to discuss the next step in the campaign, which will see a survey sent out to around 200 homes.
It aims to find out what other services the community would like to see operating out of the pub.
Committee member Sara Mills said it could result in the premises including a cafe and a shop.
'At the end of the day, there will be people who won't use the pub, but will benefit from having a little shop or a cup of tea in a cafe,' she said.
'If this is to become a community asset, it has to be right for our community and tick as many boxes as possible.'
Campaigners are receiving advice from residents of Shouldham, near King's Lynn, who saved The Kings Arms pub in 2014.
They are establishing a company, Beeston Community Enterprise Ltd, and aim to raise money by selling shares, securing grants and donations and by organising local fund-raising events.
The pub has been closed since January.
Committee member Julie Lawrence said: 'The pub has opened and closed a few times but for a couple of years recently it was really thriving.
'The people here know what they want from their local pub so if we are running it I'm sure we could make a success of it.
'This pub is the heart of the village where everybody meets and makes friends and if we can't save it now it will be gone forever.' Beeston is known for its beer as it is home to the award-winning Beeston Brewery.
Mrs Lawrence said: 'It would be ridiculous for a village with a CAMRA award-winning brewery to not have a pub in it.'
Stuart Pilbrow, director of The Joli Ltd, which owns the pub, said: 'There is no ill will between myself and the campaigners.
'I am more than happy to sell the building to them if they can raise the money. I have also offered to rent it to them for a year to see if they can make a success of it before deciding whether or not to buy it.
'I can't wait forever, though, and if they can't raise the money to buy it and don't want to rent it then they will need to leave me to get on with doing something with it.
'I think anyone who owned that building would feel the same.'
Campaigners have set up a Save Beeston Ploughshare Pub Facebook page and are looking for as many people as possible to engage with it.
There is also a Beeston Ploughshare Twitter account.
Anyone who would like to offer help directly or requires further information can e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07702 481984.
Are you campaigning to save something in your community? E mail email@example.com