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PHOTOS AND VIDEO: Forches residents occupy pub in demolition protest

PUBLISHED: 17:52 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 17:58 17 February 2014

Residents of the Forches Estate were out in force to make their point

Residents of the Forches Estate were out in force to make their point

Archant

Angry locals come out to support calls to stop the Borough Arms being demolished as residents ‘squat’ in pub

Residents of the Forches Estate were out in force to make their point Residents of the Forches Estate were out in force to make their point

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’.

And on Monday evening, dozens of local residents came out to rally against the demolition of the pub.

Several of the locals spoke passionately about their plans for the pub to be run as a community centre, including an internet café and youth centre, and emergency bed and breakfast accommodation.

One of the squatters, Kevin Sharland, said he would ‘stand in front of the bulldozers’ if he needed to.

“Everybody’s coming together,” he said. “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.”

Forches resident Charmaine Sutton also said the protesters were looking into a covenant which they believe could tie the fate of the pub to the people of Forches.

“We may have an ace card up our sleeve,” she said.

Last week, district councillors voted to approve plans to replace the pub on Forches Avenue, Barnstaple with nine houses, two flats and 11 garages.

North Devon District Council ward member for Forches and Whiddon Valley Julie Hunt and Town Councillor for the area Val Monk both joined the residents to oppose the plans to demolish the pub.

Cllr Hunt 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.

Owner and developer Chichester Homes declined to comment.

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