Devastated regulars fighting to save their much-loved pub have slated Chester-based owners who they fear plan to sell off the ‘heart and spirit of their community’ for profit.
Every week residents gather at The Centurion to enjoy quiz nights, a quick game of pool or darts and even hold their PTA meetings.
But now, with just a year until its 50th birthday, regulars fear the Vicars Cross building faces the bulldozers after being told the pub would be sold off to make way for a care home.
More than 100 regulars and concerned residents have joined together in a bid to save the popular drinking hole from demolition, hitting out at Admiral Taverns who they say are selling off the ‘spirit of the community’ – situated less than two miles away from the company’s HQ.
On their website Admiral Taverns, based at Steam Mill Business Centre which is just a five minute drive from the pub, describe themselves as ‘the UK’s number one community pub group’ who have great community pubs at the ‘heart of everything we do’.
But the company, who also own Ye Gardeners Arms on Christleton Road, are said to have done very little with the pub since they bought it around three months ago by campaigners who say they will do whatever it takes to save The Centurion from its rumoured fate.
“The concern is that on their website Admiral describe themselves as a community pub group, but since they have owned the Centurion they haven’t had anything to do with work here,” said Trevor Jones, chairman of the Community Action Group following a packed meeting at the drinking hole last week, days after the landlord says he was verbally informed by Admiral they had sold the pub subject to planning permission.
“It looks as though they have decided the Centurion is worth more as a piece of land.
“The Centurion is the only fully licenced community facility within Vicars Cross and its demolition would be a major loss to the community spirit and empowerment of the whole area.”
Mr Jones – who is a regular at the pub which opened at around the time England won the World Cup in 1966 – said the community would fight to save the Centurion and had applied to get it listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) – which would allow them six months to draw up an action plan to buy the pub.
They are hoping they will be more successful than campaigners for the Ship Victory in Chester, who are awaiting their appeal to the Ombudsman after their application to have the doomed pub listed as an ACV was refused by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Real Ale campaigners took to twitter and the action group are being supported by members from CAMRA.
A planning application has not yet been received by CWaC, a spokesperson confirmed.
MP for the City of Chester Stephen Mosley has said he will support the Centurion campaign, and has written to the chief executive of CWaC Steve Robinson and Admiral Taverns saying: “The Centurion pub is a key part of the Vicars Cross community and it makes perfect sense for local residents to apply to have it listed as an Asset of Community Value.
“I think that local residents and the parish council will be able to put a really strong case together and I would be delighted to assist them with their application.”
The Chronicle contacted Admiral Taverns but they declined to comment.