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Five-figure backing is step closer from parish council

An investment by Aldwick councillors in reviving a pub has moved a step closer.


The £10,000 backing for The Ship Inn was approved by Aldwick Parish Council’s finance committee.


The decision has to be confirmed by the full council. But it unknown when its next meeting will take place.


The parish council has cancelled its meetings for the foreseeable future as a result of the spread of coronavirus.


Committee chairman Alan Smith said at Monday’s finance committee: “My personal opinion is that we should make a decision and refer it to full council.


“As soon as the council has it, it can be proposed as an agenda item. So, I propose approval for the full council as and when the next full council meeting is.”


The decision was backed by all four committee members present after a 35-minute debate.


If it is approved, it will see the council buy shares worth £10,000 in Aldwick Community Society towards its goal of re-opening The Ship Inn.


Society chairman Roger Beam said: “Thank you very much.”


He told the committee £31,000-worth of shares had been bought towards its goal of raising £500,000 to buy the Aldwick Road building and its freehold. He expected another £26,000 to be bought this week.


“The parish council buying shares will be a vote of confidence in us.


“We would be able to use that to tell people what is going on and the parish council want to investing in the shares and helping this pub,” he said.


He said the empty building was classed as its last use of a shop rather than a pub.


“All this (coronavirus) has blown up in the last few weeks. If we get into negotiation with the owners, we would considerably depress what they are asking for.


“We think it is worth considering less as a closed pub,” he said.


Cllr Jan Rufey said: “You said you needed the confidence from this council. I think you are absolutely right.”


But she urged the society to widen the locations in which it was publicising the share issue.


Council chairman Lillian Richardson said: “We would expect as a council that you would adhere to the principles we have outlined in our design statement. You need to know that in anything that you do to The Ship Inn.”


But Cllr John Bass, speaking to the committee, said: “My big concern is parking. How many tables (for customers) will you have to make it viable? Where is the parking at peak times? The people who have asked me to come to the meeting tonight are very concerned about that.”


The pub has 14 parking spaces – but most customers are likely to walk or cycle there rather than drive. Two deliveries by lorry a week are also expected to be made.


One letter of objection from an Aldwick resident to the purchase of the shares was read to the committee by Cllr Smith before its members made their decision.

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