BEER is set to flow again in a village near Malvern after residents won their battle to reclaim their historic pub.
Matthew Williams, who is a former landlord of the Old Bush Inn in Callow End, has returned to take over the pub which has been closed since August.
Residents rallied round after it emerged the new owner was considering converting the struggling pub on Upton Road into a house.
Their Save The Old Bush Inn campaign eventually led to Malvern Hills District Council agreeing to make it a community asset, which restricts a developer from changing the use of the pub.
Coun Tom Wells, county councillor for the area who led the project, said the pub became a ‘liability’ to the owner John Davies and he said he was willing to take it off his hands.
“We met him in a pub a couple of times in December and he was very worried that it was empty,” Coun Wells said. “Ultimately he felt it was going to cost him a lot of money to secure the property and that he would be unlikely to get planning permission for housing.
“He was only too keen to do a deal with us to keep the pub open and that’s what we have done, so the community asset status has played a big part in this.”
The pub, which has been secured under a three-year rental agreement, is now being run by Mr Williams who agreed to return to the village with his wife, Karen and his nine-year-old daughter, Shanna.
The 54-year-old, who has turned Star Inn in Hampshire into an award-winning community pub, said work was now underway to revamp the Old Bush Inn ahead of its opening later this month.
“It’s great to be back,” he said. “Things haven’t changed that much in the village, but it will be nice to get it back open and get money in the till.
“The locals have been great since we arrived last week as they have been helping us with the move and have been cleaning the pub.”
Coun Wells added: “I am delighted that Matthew, Karen and his daughter are backing this.
“These are a life changing circumstances for them as they are moving up from Hampshire. It is not without risk taking on a new pub, but what I want to say as a local councillor is that we’re are indebted to the faith they have shown in our community and in return we will back them as much as we possibly can.”