Woolsery villagers take action against derelict pub

Just some of the residents pushing for action to be taken against the Farmers Arms (pictured behind) Just some of the residents pushing for action to be taken against the Farmers Arms (pictured behind)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
11:20 AM

Villagers say Woolsery has been left ‘without a heart’ after vacant pub falls into state of disrepair.

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The Farmers Arms in Woolsery.The Farmers Arms in Woolsery.

WOOLSERY residents are making a stand against a dilapidated vacant pub which has left their village ‘without a heart’.

The Farmers Arms pub was once the ‘hub of the village’ but since closing in December 2012 has fallen into a state of disrepair.

Now its damaged thatched roof is covered by a fading tarpaulin and villagers are becoming increasingly worried at the safety and appearance of the building.

In March, Peter Hamilton, who lives in the village, successfully applied to Torridge District Council for the building to become a community asset of value.

“We want to see the building preserved and available once more to the community and visitors,” said Mr Hamilton.

“The nearest pub now is three miles away. It is like Woolsery has been left without a heart.”

Andrea Cann, who also lives in the village, was the landlady of the pub for 15 years before she sold it to the current owner 10 years ago.

“It makes me feel sick to see it like this – it was such a good pub,” she said.

“It was lovely and clean, painted black and white with flowers hanging outside.

“The pub was always busy, even in the winter, but in 2012 it shut for good and it is just so disheartening to see it like this after everything I put into it.”

Andy and Sarah Fryatt, who run the Costcutter store and post office next door to the Farmers Arms, said the closure had affected their business.

“We have definitely seen a decline in the evening business,” said Mr Fryatt.

“People used to go for a drink or lunch and then come into the shop to buy their evening meal, but now we have lost that trade.

“I think it has also affected the number of visitors to the area as well because they take one look at the pub in its current state and think it’s horrible.”

Villagers have set up a group on Facebook called the Woolsery Action Group, which has gained more than 100 members.

Mr Hamilton added: “The main purpose of the Woolsery Action Group is to preserve, conserve and keep the Farmers Arms as the public house for the community of Woolsery and its visitors.

“The community needs to continue to put pressure on the council and its representatives in order to succeed.”

Torridge confirmed that the owner of the pub had appealed the decision to make the building an asset of community value.

Councillor Philip Collins, leader of Torridge, said: “Torridge, together with the parish, has been aware of the concerns relating to this building within the centre of the village.

“An owner or owners of a listed building are expected to maintain that building in sound, secure and weather-tight condition.

“The matter is being monitored by council officers with all avenues being explored, and we are having ongoing dialogues with the owner.”

The Gazette tried to contact the owner for comment but was unsuccessful.

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