Pub protesters rent claim thrown out by judge

14:31 10 April 2014

Protester Tim Woodger celebrates with councillors Val Monk (left) and Julie Hunt (right)

Protester Tim Woodger celebrates with councillors Val Monk (left) and Julie Hunt (right)

Archant

Case thrown out after pub owner and claimant fails to appear in court

PROTESTERS who occupied a Barnstaple pub set to be demolished and turned into houses will not have to pay rent, a county court judge has ruled.

Four residents occupied the Borough Arms in Forches Avenue for more than two weeks in February after plans were revealed to demolish the disused pub and build 11 new homes.

Tim Woodger, 37, one of the occupiers, appeared in court on Wednesday after pub proprietor Andrew Richard Hicks made a claim for a rent payment to be made of £84 a day to cover loss of earnings.

But Judge Waterworth struck out the claim after Mr Hicks failed to show up for the case hearing.

“Mr Hicks has a responsibility to provide evidence,” said Judge Waterworth.

“Because of his absence the court formally strikes out the claim.”

Mr Woodger said he was relieved after ‘a few sleepless nights’.

“It’s just bullying really,” he said. “If he truly thought he was in the right he would have shown his face.

“What gets me is this type of thing is going to happen everywhere. We’re going to lose these community assets that don’t necessarily need to be pubs.

“The world is going to become more of a social desert.”

Mr Woodger was supported in court by local councillors Val Monk and Julie Hunt, who are also stern believers that the people of Forches should be offered the opportunity to run the building as the new hub of the community.

The protest group have also nominated the current building, which has been empty since last May, as a ‘community asset’.

Chichester Homes’ plans for the Borough Arms site are due to be discussed by council planners in the near future.

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