THE Campaign for Real Ale is backing a fight to save a popular Eaton Socon pub. The venue is in the Camra Good Beer Guide but the owners have applied for planning permission to turn it into three homes. The application for The Rivermill Tavern, in School
THE Campaign for Real Ale is backing a fight to save a popular Eaton Socon pub.
The venue is in the Camra Good Beer Guide but the owners have applied for planning permission to turn it into three homes.
The application for The Rivermill Tavern, in School Lane, was made by Nick Bennett, the owner of the building, on February 24 when lease holders Trevor and Janet Partt were on holiday.
The couple have been running the pub together for 10 years and Mrs Partt ran the pub with her family for six years before that.
An action group has been formed, led by the Partts and their customers, and a petition, with 600 signatures so far, is being circulated.
Mr Partt said support had come from as far away as Ireland and Holland.
He said: "The Rivermill is a very popular pub and, as you can imagine, we have had a massive amount of interest with people wanting it to stay open. It just seems mad to want to close it.
"If the pub closes it will be the final nail in the coffin for the area that was once the centre of a happy and flourishing community. The public outcry will be huge."
Lucy Knight, a barmaid at the pub for three years, said: "People who come into the pub are furious and outraged at the prospect of the pub closing.
"Local taxi drivers and people living on boats in the marina are all coming into the pub to sign our petition."
The Rivermill Tavern, which employs up to 30 people, is a former flour mill, built in 1847, and it became a tavern in 1983.
It was listed in the Good Beer Guide in 2003 and 2004. Pub teams include darts, fishing and football, and ramblers use it as a refreshment point on the Ouse Valley Walk.
Andy Shaw, branch chairman of Huntingdonshire CAMRA, said: "We are expecting to have about 1,000 signatures on the petition by the end of the week.
"People feel strongly about the pub and the atmosphere of the community will be destroyed if it closed."
Owner Nick Bennett said: "I do not wish to make any comment apart from to say that the application is being dealt with through an agency and that the action group has every right to protest."
INFORMATION: The public has until Friday, March 24, to object to the application. A public meeting is being held at the Rivermill Tavern, on Monday, at 7.30pm. St Neots Town Council Planning Application Committee will consider the proposal on Wednesday and will make its recommendation to Huntingdonshire District Council development control panel.
To view the planning application online, visit www.huntsdc.gov.uk - click on the planning section and enter the planning application reference 0600711FUL.