Forches residents occupy pub in demolition protest
10:58 17 February 2014
Angry locals ‘squatting’ in building after they found the keys in the door.
ANGERED locals have moved into a Barnstaple pub to make a ‘last stand’ against its demolition.
Four ‘squatters’ moved into the Borough Arms pub on the Forches Estate on Saturday, after builders apparently left the keys to the pub in the door.
They have hung a number of banners from the building and say they were angered by the decision and the advice they had been given as they looked to take control of the empty pub through the ‘community right to bid’.
One of the squatters told the Gazette this morning (Monday): “Everybody’s coming together. The council have cut corners and actively misled us and obstructed us in making a community bid.
“They have been really sly and we are seeking a judicial review.”
The protesters also said a rally was planned for later today (Monday).
Last week, district councillors voted to approve plans to replace the pub on Forches Avenue, Barnstaple with nine houses, two flats and 11 garages.
Julie Hunt, North Devon District Council ward member for Forches and Whiddon Valley, said she backed campaigners, although warned them to ‘be realistic’ and ensure no laws were broken.
“I’m all for what they are doing but they have got to make sure they are on the right side of the law,” she said.
“I can see where they are coming from but they have got to be realistic – someone has got to be found to run the pub and someone has got to be found to fund it.
“I am currently talking to the council’s planning department about a possible application for mineral rights at the site and also, to look into ownership of the car park area,” she added.