Residents launch pub takeover bid

A group of campaigners led by coun Edward Nash are looking to take over the Victoria pub in Church Road, St Annes.
A group of campaigners led by coun Edward Nash are looking to take over the Victoria pub in Church Road, St Annes.

AN ambitious attempt is being made by a St Annes community to buy and run its cherished old pub.

The Victoria was saved from demolition when planning councillors rejected plans for it to be turned into retirement apartments last month.

Now members of the local community who use the historic former coaching house want to safeguard the popular pub by taking over control of it.

But they could face a battle from apartments plan applicants McCarthy and Stone who are still considering an appeal against Fylde Council’s development management committee’s decision not to allow their scheme to go ahead.

The community campaigners have already formed a committee and fighting fund and are determined to press ahead.

Ward councillor Ed Nash, one of the campaign leaders, fought for the Church Road pub’s survival under the Government’s Localism Act.

He said in an exclusive statement to the Express: “The Localism Act specifically provides new powers to help save local facilities - giving community groups the time to develop a bid to buy a local asset, helping local communities to keep much-loved sites in public use and part of local life.

“Vibrant, much-loved and a vital part of local life the Vic certainly is.

“Most pubs in the area would give their all to achieve a fraction of the attendance that the Vic regularly attracts. With events nightly ranging from the exciting “Vicrock” concerts, quiz nights, competitions, disco nights, darts, snooker and pool competitions, fancy dress evenings, in fact something for everyone.”

He added: “The Vic was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and we see it fitting that it take its rightful place as a community centre in the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.”

The group is already looking at what can be accommodated in the large three story building.

Ideas include an arts school and centre, office facilities, rock band rehearsal rooms, a weekly market, wellbeing centre and a veterans centre.

The Victoria, a managed house, belongs to the Spirit Pub Company, whose spokesman said: “We are still contractually bound to McCarthy and Stone for the sale of the Victoria Hotel.”