Hitchin’s rising Tory star Bim Afolami MP on board to help reopen Windmill pub – ‘Watch this space’ he promises

PUBLISHED: 08:57 11 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:57 11 August 2017

Bim Afolami with the Save The Windmill group

Bim Afolami with the Save The Windmill group

Archant

Hitchin MP Bim Afolami has met with campaigners trying to save the former Windmill pub in Charlton – and has told them to “watch this space”.

Mr Afolami met Phil Jarvis and other members of Save The Windmill Group at the Red Lion pub in Preston to discuss how people can help to restore the much-loved Windmill to its former glory.

The pub closed its doors in June 2015 after successive tenants struggled to make a go of the business, which saw brewery group Charles Wells sell the building.

The new owner caused uproar in the community when he started converting the riverside building into homes without necessary planning application.

When an application was lodged retrospectively there were more than 2,000 objections made to North Herts District Council, with the request subsequently withdrawn.

Determined villagers have now enlisted the support of Mr Afolami in an attempt to force the landlord to sell so they can create a community pub along the lines of Preston’s Red Lion.

The Conservative MP said: “I’m so passionate about trying to save this part of our local community as a pub,

“We are working to build support to purchase the Windmill pub which will be owned by the community.

“The Windmill pub was the heart of the community until it was bought by a private developer a couple of years ago, intending to turn it into a residential site.

“We want to see how we can buy it back for the community – not just so it can thrive as a pub, well known for miles around, but so that it can serve once again as the centre of community life.

“Watch this space.”

The pub has also been the subject of mysterious arson attempt that was never solved by police, with the Comet understanding that only the prompt action of a neighbour averted an inferno in September last year.

That incident followed another mystery pub blaze in Hitchin, at the site of the former Sailor Boy in Woolgrove Road in May 2015.

A fire service spokesman insisted at the time that in light of new evidence they would re-examine the findings of the original fire investigation if requested to do so by the police.

In the meantime, Mr Jarvis told the Comet this week: “We had a very productive meeting with Bim.

“He spent the whole evening with the group and was very enthusiastic and generous in his support.

“Bim even pledged to be among the first to register an interest in becoming a shareholder of a future Windmill community pub company.

“Bim explained to the group that village pubs like The Windmill perform a vital role in keeping communities together.

“‘The Pub is the Hub’, he proclaimed, adding he’s been saddened to see so many fall victim to pressure from rising land values due to the demand for residential development.

“Group members were really impressed with his enthusiasm for our cause and the expertise he was able to bring to the meeting from his legal background.”

To find out more see savethewindmillpub.com.

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