Bid to save Plymouth pub 'tangled in red tape'
A BID to save a pub is being thwarted by red tape, a councillor claims.
The Friendship Inn in Greenbank is threatened with closure after its owners went into liquidation.
Now local campaigners are hoping to save it using the Localism Act, which became law this year.
Under the law, Plymouth City Council can step in to list a community hub, giving local people the opportunity to buy it on the open market.
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Landlord Bill Light fears that the pub could be turned into student rooms. He has enlisted the support of regulars, and Drake ward councillor Steve Ricketts to help save the pub, where he has been the manager for nearly 17 years.
They have set up a group, Save the Friendship Public House, drawn up a constitution and elected officers.
And they have submitted an application to the council's legal department to list the building, which would allow the community to find a way to buy it on the open market.
But, Cllr Ricketts said, the council's legal department is "making me jump through hoops".
Pubfolio Ltd, which owned the Friendship, collapsed in 2009.
The administrators, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, put the pub on the market with Christie and Co for £165,000.
Earlier this month Christies said the property on the corner of Amity Street and Armada Street was under offer.
"Time is of the essence," Cllr Ricketts said.
He accused council legal officer Tim Howes of "undermining the community effort".
He was angered by an email on December 11 in which Mr Howes wrote: "...if (as I understand it) the property is already on the market, presumably you will be making an offer for the premises and begin fundraising?
"If that is not the case, it does beg the question why you'd want it registered as an asset of community value?"
"I'm livid," Cllr Ricketts said. "It's not for him to decide if it's a community asset or not. It's for him to do his best for the community."
"This pub has been there since 1840 and we want to keep it."
Mr Light, who lives in the two-bedroom flat above the pub, said he believed there was a danger the pub could be turned into student accommodation.
"They would be taking something out of the community that the community does use." He said he was trying to raise the money to buy the pub himself.
A council spokeswoman said: "We can understand Cllr Ricketts's frustration but it is the responsibility of the council to ensure that any application complies with the Act and regulations.
"If we do not then there could be a risk of challenge from the owner of the property in question.
"The council has tried to help Cllr Rickets in the process. This is new territory for both councillor and officers.
"We wanted to point out that there is no need for the group to be registered before it begins to fund raise to raise money to buy the building."