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Blackthorn pubgoers hit back at plan to turn local into a nursery school

Pub-goers at The Pig and Whistle in Blackthorn with their petition, they are unhappy at plans to turn the pub into a nursery. NNL-140723-013419009

Pub-goers at The Pig and Whistle in Blackthorn with their petition, they are unhappy at plans to turn the pub into a nursery. NNL-140723-013419009

Pubgoers in Blackthorn say plans to turn their local into a nursery school would leave many people on the estate with nowhere to go.

The freehold of the Pig and Whistle pub, in Bridge Court is owned by Northampton Borough Council.

A fortnight ago the authority agreed to grant a 25-year lease to Blackthorn Good Neighbours (BGN) to convert the building into a nursery.

The move would help alleviate a shortfall in the amount of nursery places available in the east of Northampton.

But its current tenant, Robbie Bell, 58, has run the premises for the past 10 years and believes the area would be losing a valuable asset.

He said: “It’s a community pub. I put on Easter egg hunts for children, barbecues for the regulars. Everyone comes down to this pub on Christmas day. There’s never trouble.”

The nursery plan is to go in front of the borough council planning committee on Tuesday and is recommended for approval. Residents have already gathered 135 names on a petition against the scheme.

An Enterprise Inns spokesperson said: “After careful consideration and a review of all options , the decision has been made to lease the property for non-pub use which will secure its future as an important community asset for local residents.”

The borough council said it was not ‘appropriate’ for it to comment at this stage.

‘FIND ANOTHER VENUE FOR NEW NURSERY’

Regulars at the Pig and Whistle pub are hoping another venue can be found for Blackthorn Good Neighbours to open a nursery.
Retired Debenhams store manager and grandfather-of-three, Tony Potts, 70, enjoys a pint in there every night. 
He said the nearest pub, The Barn Owl in Rectory Farm, was a bus ride away for him. 
“There’s real community spirit in the Pig and Whistle,” he said.

“It’s a great shame they’re thinking of doing this. I’m 70 and I’ve seen too many changes to the English way of life.
“I’ve got nothing against a nursery for the youngsters, but you have 
always got to think of the wider issue. There’s no way I’m going to 
be able to walk a mile,” Mr Potts added.
Full-time carer Michelle Smithson, 39, drinks there occasionally. She said: “I think ‘why have you got to shut another pub down in the area’.”

 

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