Campaigners say Hayling village’s last pub must be saved from last orders
CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight plans to close a village’s last pub.
The Hayling Billy, in Elm Grove, is the only pub left in Mengham following the closure of the Rose in June in 2005.
Southern Co-operative has owned the site since 2012 and says it now wants to develop the land.
It means the landlords will have to shut up shop in January, despite it being a thriving pub – bucking the national trend for dwindling punters.
The landlord did not want to comment on the closure but regular Jim Magill said he was determined to try and keep it open.
Mr Magill, 68, said: ‘I’ve been drinking in the Hayling Billy for a long time now and it’s a great pub, a real locals pub. ‘The governor’s lovely, the staff are great and the atmosphere is good.
‘It’s the centre of the village and a place where young people and old people mix together.
‘It’s part of Hayling’s heritage – the very last part of the old Hayling Billy railway’s heritage. Everything else has gone.
‘We can’t believe the Co-op is doing this. We don’t need any more shops around here.
‘But we do need pubs.’
A petition against the closure has garnered more than 100 signatures.
One of them is holiday-maker Tony Jacobs who has been visiting the pub on regular trips to Hayling since the 1970s.
He said: ‘It will be a huge loss to the island. It’s the very last pub in Mengham and we cannot lose it.’
Southern Co-operative has not confirmed what it has planned for the site. There is a large Co-op just a few hundred yards along the road which a spokesman said will remain open.
In a statement the company said: ‘The Southern Co-operative acquired the Hayling Billy pub around two years ago from Enterprise Inns which was proposing the close the pub at that time.
‘Since then, the landlord has been able to continue trading at a discretionary rent.
‘The Southern Co-operative now has plans to progress redevelopment of the site and therefore the pub will be closing shortly, although trading will be able to continue over the Christmas period. It has been confirmed that this redevelopment does not involve the closure of The Southern Co-operative’s store in Elm Grove.’