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Future of Three Horseshoes pub at Turves near Whittlesey up in the air

Destiny has given Stephen Goldspink a new campaign – the fight to save his village local

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Had it not been for one resident, the demolition of a village pub and using the land for housing could, in 2024, might have been a reasonably straight forward process. Sad, but inevitable, would probably have been the response. But at Turves near Whittlesey the fight to retain to retain the Three Horseshoes as the centre of village life, and a community asset, is gaining momentum thanks to the efforts of Stephen Goldspink.

He comes equipped with a formidable track record of campaigning, mostly political, since emerging as the English Democrat candidate in 2012 to become Cambridgeshire’s first police and crime commissioner.

Prior to this he had been a city councillor in Peterborough for 10 years.

Mr Goldspink’s policies for police and crime commissioner – which included a requirement for every police station to fly the Cross of St George – clearly resonated with some sections of the electorate. As did his plan to “lobby for realistic jail terms for offenders and more frequent use of jail, rather than community sentences”.

He secured 7219 votes, ironically well ahead of Cllr Mohammed Farooq with 5,337, but both fell in the first around; Sir Graham Bright, Conservative, was a comfortable 6,000 votes ahead of Labour’s Ed Murphy in the second round to become police and crime commissioner.

And of course, Cllr Farooq later joined the Conservatives, becoming a city councillor in Peterborough, and last November, having by then joined Peterborough First, was voted in as the new council leader.

His later forays into politics included a bid in 2017 to become Cambridgeshire’s first elected Combined Authority Mayor and promised, if elected, he would invite Donald Trump to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and make his visit “as grand and as memorable an occasion as possible”’.

Among more recent campaigns was the 2019 Fenland District Council where, as an independent, he came close to winning a seat.

Destiny it seems has given him a new campaign – the fight to save his village local.

Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open. PHOTO: Terry Harris

He’s made an impressive start, launching the Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), which aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open.

“There is really no good reason why this pub could not be viable if it had owners willing to embrace the community, community activities and the core principles of running a business – providing services the public want, at times when they want them,” says the association on its website.

“Instead, the premises have been withdrawn from public use – no food, no regular opening hours, no access for community activities.

“Much feedback talks of visitors not being welcome in the premises and therefore not returning.”

“It is known that one of the proprietors was ill in the last two years, but that is a reason for them to hire additional people to keep the pub going or sell the business, not withdraw the building from use.”

TDRA says the village has precious few amenities and receives less than its fair share of public expenditure. It believes the pub is a valuable community asset which, if demolished, will leave the village as one of only a very few of its size with no meeting place at all.

“Demolishing the pub is a selfish option that destroys a valuable community asset, apparently for no reason other than that the present owners don’t want to run it any more but wish to profit from sale of the asset,” says the TDRA.

Since the planning application to demolish the pub became public, the TDRA has been busy outlining their opposition to the pub’s closure and specifically objecting to “lack of evidence of effective or serious marketing of the pub for sale”.

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TDRA is concerned that the owners listed it with agents as “confidential” which meant very few would have been aware it was for sale.

“We dispute the Three Horseshoes Public House has been effectively marketed – a ‘confidential’ listing is not ‘effective’ marketing,” it has told Fenland planners.

“We also note that the Whittlesey Town Council recommend refusal until additional marketing has been carried out.”

TDRA is also questioning how the valuation of £350,000 – put forward by the owners in planning documents – was arrived at.

The community group says even they have researched the history of the pub’s confidential listing and submitted a lengthy assessment to planners and queries whether it was an accurate portrayal.

Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“The description given of the pub does not highlight its viability and potential in any way – stating that the pub is ‘offering considerable development potential’ and ‘trades 5 evenings and weekends only’ is not going to entice many potential pub owners who would want to make a success from running the pub (rather than taking on a new housing development) and would reasonably expect to make a profit from the pub being open during weekdays,” says the TDRA.

“We have sent an email asking for full sales details, accounts and a copy of the valuation and currently await a response.”

The TDRA says the selling agents report there were in excess of 37 viewings, but prospective buyers all agreed it was not viable given its location.

“This doesn’t make sense – why would any prospective purchase go to the trouble of making a special trip for an ‘on site viewing’ to then decide the pub only isn’t for them (a viable purchase) because of its location, when you can clearly see and check the location of the pub online?,” says the TDRA.

Stephen Goldspink (left) heads the campaign to halt the demolition of the Three Horseshoes at Turves to become housing.

Stephen Goldspink (left) heads the campaign to halt the demolition of the Three Horseshoes at Turves to become housing.

The TDRA told Fenland planners that the pub could easily be viable and “under new ownership, there would be a huge amount of support”.

Fact File: Planning applications can be found on Fenland District Council website

F/YR24/0145/O | Erect up to 5 x dwellings (outline application with matters committed in respect of access) involving the demolition of existing Public House | The Three Horseshoes 344 March Road Turves Peterborough Cambridgeshire PE7 2DN

APOLOGY
An earlier version of this article referred to claims by the residents committee – in correspondence to Fenland District Council planners – in respect of alleged subsidence and lack of commercial kitchen equipment.

We have been asked to make it clear by the owners that these two claims are factually incorrect, and we have deleted reference to them.

We would also like to apologise to the pub owners for not verifying this information prior to publication.

 

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