A community fight to save a favourite pub and social centre has saved The New Inn in Sidley from immediate closure.

Formerly owned by Punch Taverns, the New Inn was due to be transferred to Star Pubs and Bars (the leased pub arm of Heinekin UK) as part of a takeover deal involving 1,900 UK pubs. Unfortunately, the grade 2 listed building, originally dating from the 1300s, is in need of major repairs which neither Punch nor Star Pubs and Bars would commit to undertaking. As the required repairs include woodworm in the oak beams forming the major structural supports of the building, it seemed like closure was inevitable.

However, the local community has pulled together to save their beloved watering hole.  An online petition attracted widespread support, with nearly 4,000 signatories. This show of support has convinced Star Pubs and Bars that the pub is worthy of continued support. While there are no firm commitments on when the necessary repairs will be undertaken, Star Pubs and Bars has issued a statement that they intend to invest in the pub and engage with the local community in keeping it open. A consultation on the way forward, expected to take 3 to 6 months, will be undertaken once Star Pubs and Bars have taken over control.

It is not all good news for the locals. The Lucas family, who took over the pub in late 2015 and played a large role in revitalising it, are to be replaced by an outside management team. Concern has already been expressed by some regulars that the welcoming atmosphere and quality food from experienced chef Steve Lucas will be lost in the change. The current incumbents are to stay in place until 5th March. There are plans for an informal party in support of them on the afternoon of Sunday 25th February, with a number of local bands coming along to provide entertainment.

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