Collapsing profits fail to convince Fenland Council that isolated pub no longer viable

A VILLAGE pub which on some days has no customers and where staff numbers have been pared to the bone could still be viable, Fenland planners have ruled.

They have decided the owners of The Ship at Purls Bridge near Manea must do more to convince them the pub is no longer viable.

Fenland District Council refused permission to publican Wayne Bishop to convert the Ship into homes despite having the support of villagers to do so.

A council spokesman said permission was denied because the applicants had “failed to demonstrate that a comprehensive marketing exercise had been undertaken or that the existing public house was not viable.”

The spokesman added that it was the council’s policy “to protect community facilities.”

The pub’s owners had previously submitted their accounts to the council which showed net profit had fallen from �14,779 in 2006 to �11,500 four years later.

They had told the council that the profits were so low “immediate action is required”.

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Mr Bishop and his wife also provided the council with evidence that the pub had been on the market since October 2010 through all the leading agents. Seven brochures had been requested but there had been no viewings.

The application for change of use was made by Peter Humphrey Associates Ltd who said in the past year there had been a “dramatic slump in custom” attributable to the recession, beer tax, the smoking ban and sales of cheap beer from supermarkets.

Humphrey Associates told planners the Bishops had revamped the pub in 2003 to double its size creating an open log fire, character and atmosphere but trade has since deteriorated.