Campaigners celebrate success in pub rescue campaign
3 December 2012
By Heather Pickstock
CAMPAIGNERS who fought off plans to turn a Weston-super-Mare pub into a Tesco Express have received an early Christmas present – with news the inn is to re-open next month.
People living in Milton launched the Save the Bristol House Inn campaign after learning the supermarket giant was looking to extend the pub and convert it into a supermarket.
Local residents fought to save the Bristol House Inn, now they need to use it
A planning application for the expansion prompted 160 letters of objection and a 2,300-name petition from residents who said they wanted to see the pub re-opened as a community asset.
Residents said another supermarket was not needed in the area and could force other shops out of business.
They also raised concerns about additional traffic using the store and the noise and disturbance it could cause to local residents.
Councillors rejected the plans and as a result, Tesco withdrew its interest in the site, prompting locals to press its owners Enterprise Inns to re-open it.
Now following meetings between local residents and Enterprise Inns, new operators have been found and the pub, which closed in the summer, is due to re-open on December 1.
The new operators of the pub – business partners Dave Willey, and Brian Lines, 59 – live in the town and run the Star Inn at Winscombe.
The pair have 50 years of experience between them in the pub trade and Dave will be heading up operations at the Bristol House Inn.
The pair have signed a 13-week lease for the pub and are urging local people to support the venture.
They have carried out a minor refurbishment of the pub and plan to offer food seven days a week.
Mr Willey, 42, said: "We have spoken to local residents and are going into the pub with open minds and are treating it as a blank canvas.
"There was a lot of support on paper as a result of the campaign for the pub to remain open.
"What we need now is for these same people to use the pub to ensure it is a viable business.
"The Bristol House is a lovely community pub and it's great to be able to give it a second chance and breathe new life into it."
Mr Willey said improvements would continue at the pub over the coming weeks and there are plans to introduce a quiz night.
He added: "We are open to ideas as to what we can do at the pub.
"But first and foremost the most important thing is to make it an environment where people feel safe and welcome. We will work hard with the local community to make it a success and don't want to hand the keys back to Enterprise."
News the pub is to re-open has been welcomed by campaign leaders and local residents.
Campaign leader Mark Thyer said: "Enterprise Inns has listened to the supporters of the pub and are re-opening the pub and have vowed to make this work.
"The Save the Bristol House Inn Campaign has fought long and hard to get the pub re-opened for the local community.
"We beat off Tesco and have persuaded the landlords that it's worth giving it another go.
"We want all the regulars who supported the pub over the past few years and those who used to use it but haven't been going for some time together with new customers keen to try the pub out to visit the pub and support it regularly.
"We must make the pub work again otherwise we may lose it forever."
A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said: "Enterprise is pleased to confirm that the Bristol House will open on Saturday 1 December.
"The new publican, David Willey, is an experienced pub operator with a good local knowledge of Weston-super-Mare.
"We would like to invite members of the community and surrounding areas to drop in and show their support for the return of their local pub."
The Bristol House was one of many redundant pubs across the UK which Tesco is currently considering turning into supermarkets.
The supermarket giant has also announced plans to take over the former Royal Oak at West Hill, Portishead, and turn it into an Express Store – much to the horror of some local traders and residents.