SEDGLEY people are mobilising and bringing out some big guns in a battle to save their local pub.
The Seven Stars on Gospel End Road is in the sights of Morrisons, who have sent letters to the pub’s neighbours outlining proposals to close the pub and convert the site into a food store.
The plan sparked outrage in the community and within two weeks a campaign group has gathered more than 1,500 signatures on a petition opposing the scheme.
Campaign leader John Hurst, from Elan Road, said: “It’s a community thing, people are passionate, they say we don’t want a supermarket, they want to keep the pub.
“You get people of all ages in there, children and families, we are a community-based village. If this goes ahead it could affect local businesses, being a small community this could put a lot of people out of business, people say they don’t want a supermarket.”
Campaigners argue the pub’s value to the community goes beyond its role as a local inn; when it is closed parents park on the car park to drop their children off at a nearby school and if they were not allowed to do so they would stop on surrounding streets, causing traffic chaos.
The campaign has attracted high-profile support from UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who called in for a pint during a recent visit to Dudley and threw his weight behind the protest.
Mr Farage said: “I have always had this theory that every pub is a parliament. It is the hub of the community where different people come together from a whole range of backgrounds and the talk about local issues and what’s going on in the world.
“I think areas that lose their local pub are diminished and, last time I looked, there was no shortage of supermarkets in this country.
“This campaign is appealing to the social conscience of the owners of this pub to keep it as a pub for the benefit of the community.”
Delivery driver Mr Hurst, aged 36, welcomed UKIP’s support but says the campaign is not political and is hoping for support from all sides.
He said: “Ed Miliband and David Cameron are welcome to come as well, the Seven Stars name has been in this community since 1830, it has got history and heritage, this is a great pub with the right mix of people.”
Mr Hurst also stressed no deal has been finalised and Dudley Council is expected to debate a planning application to extend the pub building as part of conversion to a supermarket in September.
The authority has also yet to rule on whether the building is an asset of community value. If they decide it has community value there could be a delay in redevelopment of six months for further discussions.
Mr Hurst added, as a last resort, residents would consider a community buy-out of the Seven Stars to retain their much-loved local pub.
He said: “I canvassed 60 people the other day and everyone wanted to keep it, only two people said they were not bothered.”
Anyone wishing to show their support can log on to the campaign group’s facebook page at Save The Seven Stars Sedgley.
Martson’s Brewery, owners of the Seven Stars, are yet to respond to a News Group enquiry about the future of the pub, but have previously confirmed they have been in discussions with Morrisons about the site.