ONE of Hayling Island’s few remaining pubs has been saved from closure.
The Hayling Billy pub, in Elm Grove, has been a fixture on the island for decades as a hub for gigs and local community groups.
But it was set to close for good as debt-laden pub giant Enterprise Inns was selling off chunks of its estate.
Days before the pub was due to close, it was bought by Southern Co-operative, which already has a store nearby.
Company officials said they have bought the pub as an investment and have agreed for it to remain as a pub for the ‘foreseeable future’.
Landlady Mandy Kiellor said: ‘The Co-op is allowing us to continue running as a pub for the benefit of the community. We didn’t actually close at all but it certainly hasn’t been easy for us.
‘Quite a few things were taken out of the pub, including the beer pumps. Luckily, our regulars have given us a lot of good support, even though they’ve had to drink from cans and bottles.
‘We have had to reorganise completely to get the business going again, and we’ve had to do it all ourselves, but fortunately everyone has pitched in, including all the staff.
‘We’ve given the whole pub a good clean up and a coat of paint and now we’d like people on Hayling to give us a chance, so we can continue to keep the pub going.’
As reported, some community leaders expected the pub to be sold and turned into a Tesco outlet.
Another Enterprise Inn pub, The Green Dragon in Lovedean, was recently sold to Tesco.
Officials at the Southern Co-operative said they have no intentions at the current time of opening up a convenience outlet on the site.
Ted Merdler, head of brand engagement and communications at the Southern Co-operative, said: ‘It’s an investment property.
‘We have sat down and spoken to Mandy and she’s very happy with the current situation.
‘We are keeping it running as a pub for the foreseeable future.
‘At the moment she has got a pub and we have a property.
‘It’s keeping a local service going.
‘Best of luck to her.’
The Hayling Legends Classic Car Club is continuing to meet at the pub every Wednesday.
Organiser John Bennett said: ‘This is very good news for us.’
The island has lost several pubs over the last few years, including The Rose in June, the New Buccaneer, and the Kittiwake.
Terry Worrall, chairman of Hayling Island Community Network, said: ‘I am glad we have retained its use as a pub.
‘If that pub had closed the centre of Hayling would have not have had any pubs.’