Pub enthusiasts are clubbing together to protect a popular local at the heart of a community from the threat of future development.
The Keep It Local group has formed to try to get the Hare and Hounds, in Billinge, listed as an asset of community value (ACV) by Wigan Council.
If successful ACV status means community groups would be able to bid to take over running the pub should the owner decide to sell it, and also makes gaining planning permission for change of use tougher.
The group, which includes popular landlady Janet Hornby, say there are no plans to close the Hare and Hounds but they are keen to ensure it is well protected should any issues arise in the future.
Keep It Local founder Roger Buckner said: “The Hare and Hounds is truly the locals pub in Billinge. There’s strong support for it in the community and the atmosphere is always chatty and convivial.
“Nationally we are losing something like 30 pubs a week. It’s a British tradition and a way of life, and the Hare and Hounds definitely falls into that category. It’s a real gossip shop where people can find out what’s going on in the locality.
“The area is experiencing development of new homes on several large estates, so the pub is an important asset not only for long-established residents but also for integrating new people into the community.”
A petition has been set up which so far has more than 60 signatures on it and Keep It Local hopes a few more residents will add their names before the petition is presented on November 1.
Roger says he hopes talks between the landlady and Wigan Council about possibly running dementia support groups in the Hare and Hounds will also count in Keep It Local’s favour as it demonstrates extra community use.
ACV status recently hit the headlines in the borough after the South East Lancs (SEL) branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) got Atherton’s Formby Hall listed as its new owners want to demolish it to build a nursing home and flats for supported living.
Camra is encouraging pub fans across the country to complete ACV applications to try to arrest the dramatic fall in the number of traditional boozers remaining open.
However, Roger admits he is only aware of one pub in Wigan which he believes has successfully been put on the ACV list.
The petition is available to sign at the pub. For more information, search for the Hare and Hounds Billinge at whatpub.com