Community asked to bid for local pub
Updated 6:07pm Tuesday 5th August 2014 in By Beren Cross, @BerenCross
COMMUNITY bids for The True Heart Inn in Bishopstone are being invited after owner John Jones accepted a formal offer from Arkell’s Brewery.
Swindon Council published a public notice yesterday, which invited any public interest in the pub, which is listed as an asset of community value.
The notice is thought to have been triggered by an offer from the Swindon brewery, which was revealed in a document sent to Bishopstone Parish Council by the local authority.
Ian Thomas, who sits on the parish council, said: “The parish council have received notification from the borough council that Mr Jones (True Heart’s owner) has received and, we believe, accepted an offer from Arkell’s.
“We are obviously pleased that Arkell’s have come forward. We would rather see it tidied up and operated as a pub rather than rotting as a pub inside and out.
“We will meet to decide how we want to respond to this notice.
“It says he has received an offer and we can only assume he wants to progress it.”
Any qualifying community interest group wishing to be treated as a potential bidder must make themselves known to Swindon Council on or before Thursday, September 4.
The pub has been listed as a community asset since November 4 last year, and will remain listed as such until 2018, unless removed by review or appeal in the meantime.
Ahead of the parish council’s meeting to discuss any response, Mr Thomas said: “There would have been more likelihood of troops rallying, had the offer been from a developer.
“The fact it’s from a brewery means there is no need or wish to compete with it. Beggars can’t be choosers.”
Mr Jones, 73, who has owned the pub since the mid-1990s, said that he was happy with the offer made by Arkell’s in April and hoped the transaction would take place, after going through the invitation process for public bidders.
A spokeswoman for Arkell’s said: “Arkell’s is hoping to purchase The True Heart at Bishopstone.
“It already owns the successful and award-winning Royal Oak in the village and if successful in purchasing The True Heart, this will enhance its presence in the village.”
This is the first sign of progress in determining the future of the pub since a public meeting on March 3, where Mr Jones revealed redevelopment plans for two detached houses on the rear car park, with proceeds going towards a refurbishment.
The public showed little support for those plans at the time, and since then there has been little heard on redevelopment from either the owner or his architect, Mike Fowler of Fowler Architecture and Planning (FAAP).