Village fury at future of pub

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ANGRY residents in Great Alne are demanding answers over the future of their beloved historic pub which was closed suddenly by its owners in January and boarded up last week.

With Christmas fast approaching, regulars at The Mother Huff Cap never dreamt that last Christmas might be their last at their favourite watering hole before last orders were called by the pub’s owners Harwood Willmott Partnership.

It’s been a long dry year for residents who enjoyed nipping down to the pub which dates back to at least 1675 and derives its name from an expression describing the best beer in the house – The Mother Huff Cap.

Key to the uncertainty of the pub’s future is the issue of money in terms of possibly re-opening it as a community pub which some other villages in south Warwickshire have already done with their local.

In this case the asking price is believed to be in the region of £750,000 and £800,000 which could a too much to raise at short notice.

For the time being the pumps are dry, boards have gone up outside the pub and question marks continue to hang over the pub’s future.

Great Alne resident and one time regular at the The Huff Cap is Clare Fitzsimmons who said: “The closure of our pub has been a huge loss to the village and to the sense of community here. What really angers us is the lack of communication and transparency. We appreciate the pub industry faces a difficult time but there are a great many people here willing and keen to support The Huff Cap as a proper local pub, and no reason to consider it unviable when pubs all around are busy and thriving. We can’t understand why the freehold isn’t being visibly marketed for sale – there are no details online and no for sale board outside. Instead a listed building which has been a pub for many hundreds of years is being left to literally fall apart, while all we hear are whispers of housing development on what would be a wholly unsuitable site.

“There is so much potential for the Huff Cap to be a great pub and so much more with the right owners – a cyclist and rambler stop, it could incorporate a much-needed village shop, B&B accommodation. Endless potential – to see it end up as housing would be a big blow to the community and wasted opportunity for something so much better.”

But a spokesperson for the pub’s owners said they have tried exploring various options to re-invigorate the pub without much success.

Sam Roffe issued the following statement on behalf of the Harwood Willmott Partnership, owners of The Mother Huff Cap:

“For more than nine years the Mother Huff Cap has been operated variously by a series of tenants and most recently by the owners of the site. Under none of these working models has it been possible to operate the pub on a commercially viable basis.

During the summer, we were very hopeful of a sale but unfortunately the potential buyers withdrew from the deal. We were then approached by a representative from a local Community Group but earlier this month, the group formally withdrew their interest in the pub. We are now assessing alternative uses for the site.

At every key stage, we have updated the local community through their parish council and will continue to do so.

Over in Loxley efforts by villagers to buy their local pub have moved forward in recent days with news that their formal offer for the premises has been accepted.

The Fox at Loxley is currently up for sale, but Loxley residents want the buy it from EI Group (formerly Enterprise Inns) and open it as a community pub, making it into a hub of the village.

Support for the venture has come from far and wide with more than £200,000 being pledged to make it happen.

With the acceptance of the formal bid, The Fox at Loxley Action Group, which is co-ordinating efforts to buy the premises, is now set to launch a share offer to turn those pledges into cash.

The share offer will be launched at Wellesbourne Village Hall at 7.30pm on 20th November.

For more information about the group’s plans for the Fox at Loxley, visit www.loxleycbs.com.

 

  • Colin Badham

    I wonder how many of those people stood outside now regularly used the pub, unfortunately it’s the same old story, use it or lose it.