Bid launched for a community-owned pub in suburb village

The Bell Inn at Salhouse. Pictured inset is councillor Fran Whymark 

The Bell Inn at Salhouse. Pictured inset is councillor Fran Whymark - Credit: Everard Cole/Fran Whymark

A new campaign has been launched in an attempt to transform a village pub into a community hub with a food offering.

The Bell Inn is a privately owned boozer in Salhouse dating back to the 17th century which was put up for sale last year

But now villager Graham Johnston, 43, is trying to drum up support to breathe new life into the pub having moved back to the area with his young family in April 2021. 

He has created a survey to gauge what people want to see happen to the pub if it is community-owned. 

After 60 people responded within 48 hours, Mr Johnston found ideas included a post office, social events such as live music and quizzes, as well as a food offering at the hub.

Mr Johnston said: "A big response has been around creating a family friendly atmosphere. People want somewhere light and fresh to take their kids, even if that means somewhere to go for a soft drink after school.

"The parish council very much want it to stay as a pub and want to resist any long-term changes.

"If no one can make it viable there is always the threat of it getting turned into houses in the long term." 

Graham Johnson, who is leading the campaign to turn The Bell Inn into a community-owned pub in Salhouse 

Graham Johnston - Credit: Graham Johnson

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The campaign group is currently in talks with the current landlord of the pub who is understood to be open to exploring all options presented. 

County and district councillor for Salhouse, Fran Whymark (Cons), said: "The pub has changed hands quite a few times over the last few years.

"I take my hat off to the people who have set this up but it could be quite a project for them.

"I hate seeing pubs close down and hopefully with the right management it could do well and become an asset for the community." 

Rackheath parish and district councillor, Fran Whymark. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Salhouse and Rackheath councillor Fran Whymark - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2022

A spokeswoman for the Plunkett Foundation, a UK-wide charity dedicated to community businesses, said: "We strongly believe that with the support of its community there is every chance that The Bell could be a successful pub and community hub."

A public meeting will take place at Salhouse Primary School to discuss the pub on Wednesday, July 20 at 6pm.

The Bell Inn at Salhouse

The Bell Inn at Salhouse - Credit: Everard Cole