RESIDENTS of a Huntingdonshire village came a step closer to owning their own pub after the building failed to sell at auction.

The Royal Oak pub in Hail Weston went under the hammer on May 3, but the guide price of £270,000 proved too high.

Members of the Save the Royal Oak Action Group now intend to explore the option of forming a co-operative, giving the people of Hail Weston the chance to own a share of the 17th century Grade II-listed building on the High Street and retain it as a pub.

Chairman of the action group Andy Shaw said the campaign would present its plans at the parish council meeting, which was due to take place as The Hunts Post went to press last night (Tuesday).

"The only thing the parish council can do is to have a plan to put the pub on the Community Asset Register for when the Localism Act comes into force in October," Mr Shaw told The Hunts Post. "However, we can formally start the process of creating a co-operative."

The Royal Oak, now the only surviving pub in the village, was sold to Andy Vidler in November last year, but he was forced to put it on the market following a stroke.

The pub called last orders on January 1 and has been closed since.

Mr Shaw added: "The parish council can now formally decide to send a message to the residents of the Hail Weston community that they want to save the pub. The more people involved the better in terms of the long-term viability of the pub."

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has long championed the campaign to save the traditional pub as up to 12 close across the country every week.