Sidley pub is saved due to people power

Brett McLean, Sandra Martin, the Lucas family and customers outside the New Inn SUS-180131-151841001
Brett McLean, Sandra Martin, the Lucas family and customers outside the New Inn SUS-180131-151841001

A popular pub in Sidley has been saved from closure, thanks to people power.

The New Inn, in Ninfield Road, was set to be boarded up by the end of this month due to urgent structural repairs.

However Heineken, which bought the pub last August, has decided to carry out remedial work at the beginning of March, meaning it will only be closed for a couple of days.

Earlier in January a campaign was launched to save the pub. A petition also attracted more than 3,900 signatures.

Landlord Stephen Lucas said: “We as a family are hugely relieved the pub will not be boarded up and that its future is secure. Hopefully Heineken will make a good job of the refit and bring the pub back into a condition it deserves to be in.”

Last Thursday (January 25) celebrity Sandra Martin, best known for her role on Gogglebox, visited the New Inn accompanied by business and community leader Brett McLean to show their support.

A spokeswoman for Star Pubs & Bars, which is part of Heineken, said: “The New Inn is one of 1,900 pubs which Star Pubs & Bars bought from Punch in August. As part of the purchase, we signed a six-month transitional services agreement with Punch to manage the pubs during this period. We are working closely with Punch colleagues as we prepare for the final transition to Star Pubs & Bars on March 5.

“We see a great future for the New Inn and do not wish to sell the freehold. Both Punch and Star recognise the huge historical significance of the New Inn and the important role it plays in the community.

“However the pub is in a bad state of repair as despite Punch’s support for the licensees, they have not been able to fulfil their repairing obligations on the pub over the years. Added to the fact that the New Inn is a listed building in a conservation area, it will take significant time and investment to make this pub great again. Due to the extent of the work required, a mutual decision has been taken for the licensees to end their lease and come out of the pub.

“We are doing all we can to ensure the New Inn does not close in the short term but given the severity of the works this remains a possibility though one we are seeking to avoid. Long term we are looking to invest in the New Inn.”

Paul Courtel, speaking on behalf of the executive committee of the Bexhill Town Forum, said: “We are delighted that Star Pubs & Bars see a great future for the New Inn and have decided to invest in it. We appreciate that the resulting facility could be different from what currently exists but look forward to facilitating Sidley community engagement with Star Pubs & Bars concerning the way forward.”