A CAMPAIGN to keep a popular village pub in business has attracted global support.

More than 300 people have signed a petition to improve the fortunes of The Five Bells Inn at Clyst Hydon, near Cullompton, after the business went into receivership. Villager Clive Birch, who launched the campaign, is worried that the pub’s current owner, Santander, could sell the Grade II listed thatched inn for re-development as a residential property.

“Our game plan is simple – we all need to get back into the pub and prove we want it,” he said.

“If we can achieve this the property will have to be offered for sale as a pub with a lower asking price. “The combination of better trading figures, community support and a lower asking price will make it sufficiently attractive for the pub to be sold as a going concern to a local buyer who really loves the pub.”

A Facebook page set up to publicise the campaign has more than 130 followers, and the petition includes signatures from past visitors to the pub as far afield as Mexico and New Zealand.

The group has employed the help of a local specialist to better understand the situation with regards to its current ownership, and a meeting will be held at the pub on Tuesday, Jan-uary 29, to give an update on the campaign and discuss the possibility of a community purchase option.

It is also hoped that a pub quiz next Wednesday, January 9, and a Burns Night celebration on Saturday, January 26, will drum up even more trade.

“The pub is also a good local employer, which is another reason why we want to keep it going,” said Clive, who used to work the occasional shift behind the bar after moving to the village in 1985.

“Our major concern is that it will be marketed as a suitable property for residential conversion.

“That is a real fear because if that happens it will be lost forever.

“We will oppose any attempt to convert it into a house, and I will be meeting with the parish council to ask them to vigorously oppose any such application.”