A former landlady has hit out at accusations she opened a shop in her pub’s place to make it easier to get permission to turn it into housing.
In 2007, Carol Gibson bought the Bull Inn in Thorpe Morieux, but she says she never recovered after the recession and became “crippled” by a large mortgage.
She also claims she received little support from villagers and regularly had to “throw beer down the drain”.
After running it for six years, she says she fails to see how she could be accused of not trying to make it work before choosing to turn it into a shop.
She said: “I could not continue to run the pub at a loss, but needed to make money some how, so chose the option of a bric-a-brac shop.
“Going down this route, I could change its use quickly – not requiring planning permission as it came under the same class as the pub.
“Along with minimal outlay for stock, I could start trading as The Bull Inn - A China Shop rather rapidly.”
Residents campaigning to save the pub staged a protest last month in response to a change of use application which proposes turning the premises from a bric-a-brac shop with living accommodation to a home.
Villagers want the pub to reopen under community ownership but had their £200,000 offer to buy it rejected shortly before seeing it marketed as a £425,000 five-bedroom, detached house.
Miss Gibson said: “If they were looking at it as a failed pub that they had to do lots of work to, it wouldn’t be worth as much, but it’s not a pub anymore – it’s a bric-a-brac shop and, as a commercial property, it’s worth more.
“They should come back with more money.”
Campaigners say they have had the pub independently valued and believe they have made a fair offer.
Campaigner John Gagen said he sympathised with Miss Gibson’s plight but felt it would be inappropriate for the change of use to be accepted.
He said: “Running a pub is hard work. To get it right is difficult, but I don’t think we should reward people who don’t get it right.”