Love Your Local: The Fort Cumberland Arms, Portsmouth

14/5/2013 (MOL) LOVE YOUR LOCAL''The Fort Cumberland Arms in Eastney Road, Eastney.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131307-4549) ENGPPP00120130514214435
14/5/2013 (MOL) LOVE YOUR LOCAL''The Fort Cumberland Arms in Eastney Road, Eastney.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131307-4549) ENGPPP00120130514214435
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It is a pub that has been through its fair share of highs and lows in recent years.

The Fort Cumberland Arms, in Eastney, Portsmouth, could now be given a major boost to ensure it has a stronger future and gets a fair deal.

14/5/2013 (MOL) LOVE YOUR LOCAL''The Fort Cumberland Arms in Eastney Road, Eastney.''Pictured is: Landlords Dave and Tina Donnington behind the bar.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131307-4510) ENGPPP00120130514214422

14/5/2013 (MOL) LOVE YOUR LOCAL''The Fort Cumberland Arms in Eastney Road, Eastney.''Pictured is: Landlords Dave and Tina Donnington behind the bar.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131307-4510) ENGPPP00120130514214422

Ukip city councillor Steve Hastings, who has highlighted the need to better protect locals, believes the pub could be the right one for the council to buy up and save.

And he plans to have a meeting with its landlords to discuss the idea further and the benefits it would bring.

As reported, Cllr Hastings believes the council should consider acting as a freeholder to under-threat pubs and collect rent from tenants.

That way, the pub would have a fair arrangement with its owners, and the council in taking an income would be able to make less cuts.

Tim House, 49, a regular at The Fort Cumberland Arms who has campaigned for it to be given more help, welcomed council support.

‘I would definitely like to see this happen,’ he said.

‘Plus it’s great advertising for the council that it is supporting a local, community pub.

‘I contacted Councillor Luke Stubbs (Tory deputy leader), at the council about three to four months ago about this, and he was all for the idea, but said it was very much just an idea at that stage.

‘At the moment, the landlords Tina and Dave Dolling are paying £1,000 a week in rent, and that’s not including the rest of the bills.’

Mr House said the pub has become increasingly popular over the past year and praised the community for rallying together.

The pub was shut for around a month at the beginning of 2014 after it was swamped with flood water over Christmas.

The pub was previously threatened with closure after plans were drawn up to turn it into a day nursery.

But the council dismissed the plans after regulars launched a petition and made the case why their local should not be taken away.

Cllr Hastings admitted it is a pub close to Ukip as the party uses it as a meeting place.

But he said it was also a pub that was well used by the community.

‘It’s a pub that has always been there,’ he said.

‘Why should it disappear like other pubs?

‘All pubs in Portsmouth need protecting.

‘Some can’t – but some can be given more help.’

He added: ‘It’s one that we as Ukip have a close relationship with. We use it as our meeting place quite regularly and our campaigning before the local election was done there.’

Meet the landlord

THE couple at the helm of The Fort Cumberland Arms say they would welcome with open arms the support of Portsmouth City Council.

Dave and Tina Dolling, both 55, say life has been tough since they took over three years ago – and couldn’t have done it without the help of their regulars.

And they say having the council as a landlord would give them security over their future.

Mr Dolling said: ‘It would be a great if the council took over, because it’s a community pub anyway.

‘People come in here, and they come back again and again.

‘The regulars have really helped us out, especially when we had the flood.

‘They sorted out taking the ccarpets up for us, we chose the new ones and then they helped from there.

‘But it has been a struggle, especially at this time of year because it goes a bit quiet.

‘The problem is pub companies are not helping.’

Mrs Dolling said: ‘The council’s help would ensure the pub remains a community pub.

‘It’s a family-friendly pub.

‘Anyone can come in, women can come here and feel safe.

‘Nobody asks “what are you doing in here?”

‘Everyone talks to everyone and we all help each other out.’

A party will be held to celebrate the couple’s third anniversary at the pub on Friday.

Visitors will be treated to a buffet and a DJ will perform.

And the landlords has thanked one of their regular customers, Jim Lovers, who has chosen to give up his own time to repaint the toilets to ensure they look better.