New rules may be lifeline for the local pub in Portsmouth

CLOSED The Travellers' Joy in Milton has been demolished and, inset, The Devonshire Arms is shut.
CLOSED The Travellers' Joy in Milton has been demolished and, inset, The Devonshire Arms is shut.

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PUBS that are the lifeblood of communities in Portsmouth could be saved from closure under new rules.

Under the government’s Localism Act local authorities have to produce a list of assets that community groups can bid on once they come up for sale.

CLOSED The Devonshire Arms, Southsea.

CLOSED The Devonshire Arms, Southsea.

And this week Lib Dem councillors Will Purvis and Darren Sanders called on council officials to put cherished local pubs on the register, which is being introduced by the government in October.

The pair came up with the idea after coming across The News Love Your Local campaign, which was set up a year and a half ago in the hope that councils would adopt policies to protect local pubs.

Cllr Purvis, who represents Milton, said: ‘In many areas of our city, pubs are the centre of the community. For many people it is their only chance to meet up with friends. If you take that away from people then you lose their community.

‘This stems from my and Cllr Sanders’ interest in the Love Your Local campaign, which shows that people really care about their local pubs.’

As well as pubs the register could include libraries, community centres, churches and other places of importance to residents.

If an asset on the list comes up for sale community groups will be given six months to come forward with a bid.

And during that time private developers won’t have the power to step in with a rival offer.

Proposals to change Portsmouth City Council’s planning policy to protect community assets were put forward by the two councillors at a full council meeting on Tuesday.

Measures such as what kind of pubs could make the register, which community groups could make an offer and whether people could vote, will now be examined by council officers and the cabinet. The issue will then be debated by the full council later in the year.

Cllr Purvis added: ‘Many residents in my ward are supportive of the government protecting community assets.

‘They were saddened by the closure of The Traveller’s Joy in Milton Road.’

Louise Bastable, landlady of The Golden Eagle, in Delamere Road, Southsea, was supportive of pubs being included on the register.

‘I would rather see a co-op of regulars take over their local than see a private developer turn it into something else,’ she said.