Urgent – Call to Arms – ‘Save the White Hart’ campaign

Urgent – Call to Arms – ‘Save the White Hart’ campaign

This Wednesday evening, the first hurdle in saving the White Hart Inn will be decided by the Western Area Planning Committee of West Berkshire Council. For those of our friends and supporters that have confirmed that they will be attending, the campaign team thank you.

For those of you who have not yet decided, it is vitally important that the District Councillors and even the officers, not only see you but they also have to ‘feel’ our collective and unremitting determination to retain the White Hart as a working pub.

No doubt you have read the article in the Newbury Weekly News that the planners are recommending that the change of use application be refused as submitted. We on the campaign team cannot take anything for granted as the ultimate decision is with the Councillors.

I am therefore urging you, if at all possible, please take time out of your busy schedule and join us at the Council Offices on Wednesday, April 20th. We intend to gather outside the Council Offices, Market Street entrance by 6:05pm, so please come (armed with a simple placard if possible) and join us.  We will not be silent!

Calling on all Supporters

On behalf of the campaign team, we are writing to thank you for your continued support. Please be assured that your support sustains us all as we move the ‘Save the White Hart’ campaign forward.

The Western Area Planning Committee agenda for the April 20 meeting, has been published and on page two of the agenda the following is shown

‘Recommendation: Head of Planning and Countryside be authorised to REFUSE the application as submitted’.

Of course, this is only a recommendation and the final decision lies with the District Councillors. I urge all of you who are able to attend the meeting to come and show your support (bring your placards) to retain the White Hart as a working pub. Your presence will underscore the importance of the White Hart to our community.

The public part of the planning meeting is scheduled to commence at 6:30pm in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14 5LD. John Handy will speak on behalf of the Parish Council and Tom Lane, will be speaking and representing the Campaign Team. The campaign team have had the opportunity to listen and critique the presentations and I personally commend these presentations to you; all the points being made encapsulates all the comments and views and commitment of the majority of the village.

It would be helpful if you would kindly contact me either by email or telephone (01488 657022) to let me know if you are attending the meeting. The campaign team will be there in full force.

Within a few days following the meeting, the campaign team will be organising a supporters meeting as we have several items to discuss with you; we need your guidance on all of these items. This meeting is very important!

We are seeking those amongst you who wish to volunteer to form a steering committee to manage the community pub process. In particular we need people with business expertise, for example, business planning, budget and other critical financial skills. Moreover, we need people who have knowledge of the pub business. It is vitally important that you understand what is going to be needed to launch a community pub business.

So, by this time next week, we will have cleared one hurdle. There are more hurdles to clear and that is why we need your help.

On behalf of the campaign team, Tom, Pete, John, Peter, David, Nic and myself, thank you for your unswerving support.

Update to our Friends and Supporters

Dear Friends

From the onset of our campaign, our primary objective was and still is, to block the change of use application. The West Berkshire Council (Western Area), planning meeting is scheduled for April 20th at which time the application for ‘change of use’ will be heard. One campaign team member and the Chairman of the Parish Council will have an opportunity to address the committee and present their prepared cases. We would like invite you to attend along with the campaign team to show community support. The meeting at the Council offices in Newbury starts at 6.30pm.   Your attendance and support is crucial to demonstrate to the planning committee the support for the campaign.

You may be aware that the owner of the White Hart Inn has reduced the selling price of the leasehold terms. Whilst there has been some increased interest, there appears to be no solid negotiations in process, according to our current understanding.

Our immediate preference is for a new party to come forward and take on the lease offered. However, we are doubtful that enough publicity is being made to reach potential proprietors. With this in mind, we ask if you have means, to help spread the word. All leads and notices should be addressed to Mr Tim Widdows of Christie & Co, Reading Branch, Ref: 4850009; email: tim.widdows@christie.com.

Our primary option continues to be the sale of the freehold; however, this preferred outcome is unlikely, given the decision of the owner of the White Hart to retain the freehold.

One of the options that the campaign team has been investigating is a ‘community enterprise’ whereby the pub would be managed by a group of people who have invested/donated financial resources.  In this regard, we are writing to enquire whether you would be interested in such an enterprise and be able volunteer such necessary experience and skill sets to help a steering group move forward in this direction? As part of our investigation, we have sought and obtained support from the Plunkett Foundation www.plunkett.co.uk (an organisation whose aim is ‘support people, predominantly in rural areas, to set up and run life-changing community co-operatives that help them tackle issues ranging from isolation and loneliness to poverty).  The support is part of the Community Pub Business Programme; a recently announced government sponsored programme. Would you be interested in being involved in setting up such a community enterprise?

Would you kindly let me know by no later than Wednesday, April 13, 2016.  Better still, please visit the Village Market this Saturday, April the 9th; the campaign team will have a stall, so please come and share your views.  We wish to thank Lanie Allen and Susan Watts of the Hamstead Marshall Village Market for inviting us.

There is now a Campaign website: savethewhitehart.org ; the website information will be updated as frequently as possible to help keep you up posted.

 

Kindest regards and thank you for your support, which is much appreciated by the entire campaign team.

Anne Budd, Save the White Hart Campaign