Villagers support Fen landlord who wants to close pub and turn it into housing

VILLAGERS living near to an isolated Fenland pub are backing the owners' plan to close and convert it to housing.

'I have no objection to the pub being closed and de-licensed' Julie Ward has told Fenland District Council.

Hers is one of a number of letters submitted to the council to support Wayne Bishop and his wife who want to shut the Ship Inn at Purls Bridge near Manea.

The Ship sits alongside the Old Bedford River, in a very remote area, and has over the years attracted bird watchers and tourists but in the past year trade has slumped, says Mr Bishop.

An accompanying report from his agent Peter Humphrey Associates blames the decline on the recession and the ban on smoking in public houses.

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'Increased beer tax, wages and rising property rates have also

affected the situation' says the report. 'Cheap supermarket alcohol has forced down beer sales down each year and reduced the pub's net profit.'

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The report says the couple revamped the pub in 2003 to double its size creating an open log fire, character and atmosphere but today trade is so bad that on some days 'it is quite common for no one to visit the pub'.

The pub has been on the market for a year but has attracted little interest, says Humphrey Associates.

'Purls Bridge is such a small area that it is not possible to find a huge amount of local support,' their report concludes.

Other neighbours say they have no problems with the Bishops converting it to houses.

Tim Von Seld and Tanya O'Gorman of Purls Bridge Drove told the council 'we have no objections to the Ship ceasing trading' and its conversion to housing.

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