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'Last Rites' for Red Lions pub in Bottesford

Campaigners who hoped to save the Red Lion pub at Bottesford are accusing Melton Borough Council of ‘maladministration.’

Now, the council has said it is reviewing how pubs are given ‘asset of community value’ status, to help stop them being converted to other uses.

John Shilton, of the Friends of the Red Lion, says his group twice sought such status for the pub in 2016, which the council declined, saying the pub did not meet a viability test to gain such status.

However, following a review of how the council awarded such status, the council finally declared the pub an asset of community value last November.

But before the status was given, the pub was listed for sale and the campaigners were denied the six-month opportunity to buy the pub, as allowed by law, and it was sold to a property developer.

Then, last month, the council approved a change of use for the pub to housing, which Mr Shilton describes as the ‘last rites’ for the Red Lion.

He accuses the council of making “illegal and incompetent decisions” and not addressing flaws in policy, procedures and practice soon enough.

He said: “The maladministration has therefore resulted in a grave injustice to the Bottesford community. They stuffed us good and proper.”

Mr Shilton admits nothing can now be done to save the pub, but he hopes his complaint will lead the council admit it erred and recompense the community in some way.

He also complains of a lack of support from local district councillors.

One of them, Councillor Pru Chandler, told the Journal the campaigners claimed 150 supporters, but Bottesford has a 2,800 electorate.

She said residents complained to her of the pub deteriorating and people are now saying they are pleased the future of the building has been secured.

Bottesford also has two other pubs, two licensed clubs, two licensed restaurants, plus another licensed restaurant with play facilities.

A spokesman for Melton Borough Council said: “The council has identified issues with how applications for assets of community value have been dealt with in the past and these have now been rectified.

“As a result, the process is under review to ensure that it is transparent and fair to all parties.

“The council has and will continue to work with the Friends of the Red Lion to deal with any outstanding issues raised in their complaint but is unable to comment further at this point because the investigation is ongoing.”

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