THEY were left devastated and frustrated when their local pub suddenly closed.
But these staunch regulars have taken it upon themselves to try and take back some control – and are hoping to make The Eldon Arms Portsmouth’s first Asset of Community Value.
The pub, in Eldon Street, Southsea, which is owned by Enterprise Inns, closed on December 22, when the landlord left without notice.
Since then, the pub has been empty and a group of 70 regulars have had to speed up their plan – which they had already been discussing – to get the council to declare the pub as an Asset of Community Value.
This means that if it was put up for sale, they would be entitled to submit a bid and a six-month moratorium would kick in, giving the group time to raise the necessary funds.
Pete Sanger, from the group called The Eldon Arms Community Preservation Society – or Teacups for short, said: ‘This will be the first in Portsmouth. We were very shocked when we discovered the pub shut. It happened so quickly.
‘It has always been a strong community pub, there are 70 of us in the group who all live in the local area and have known each other for many years. There’s a strong community feel.
‘It’s also a unique building, with Poole Pottery tiles on the front – our long-term aim is to get it listed by English Heritage.’
The group was initially spurred into action when the Kitsch n’ d’or, another venue in Eldon Street owned by Enterprise Inns, closed in August, 2015. The venue has been empty ever since, so the group decided to take action in case the worst happened to their pub.
They set up a website, put the wheels in motion and handed in an application to Portsmouth City Council. They expect a decision back before the end of February.
However, yesterday a spokesman from Enterprise Inns said it had found a publican and was planning on reopening.
He said: ‘We can confirm, we have found a publican to take on The Eldon Arms on a short-term agreement and hope to have it open by the end of this week.
‘We’d like to reassure the community that we value its standing as a much-loved local pub and are currently searching for a permanent tenant to take it on.’
Teacups said they would still be pursuing their ACV – and they encourage others to do the same to protect their local pubs.
Roger Addy said: ‘While our focus is, naturally, on doing anything we can to try to ensure that The Eldon Arms remains as a local pub and an asset for the local community, we also feel that our approach may be of interest to the locals of other Portsmouth pubs.
‘We’d encourage people to join our campaign or use our approach to try to help protect their own community pubs; if we don’t do something soon, locals will soon be a thing of the past.’
To get involved with the campaign, go to southsea-teacups.org/ for more.