Campaigners who want to save the Halfway House win support of two MPs
CAMPAIGNERS who want to save the Halfway House in Box have won the support of two local MPs.
More than 75 residents attended a public meeting on Friday at Box Village Hall to discuss the pub's closure with Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Stroud MP Neil Carmichael.
The Novalis Trust closed the pub in July and plans to turn it into a village shop and cafe. An online petition against the closure now has more than 1,200 signatures.
But Mr Clifton-Brown said the issue was about more than just the pub closing.
He told campaigners: "It pains me to see a facility like this lost. I would like to get it reopened but I am under no illusion as to how difficult that will be.
"What I am very concerned about is the relationship between Novalis Trust and the community. I want to make sure that relationship improves."
Mr Clifton-Brown said he plans to meet with the trust and that he could raise the matter in Parliament.
Mr Carmichael said: "When I visited the school one of the things I noticed was the complete unwillingness to work with the community."
Residents said that relations between the charity and the village were difficult and voiced concerns about the number of properties owned by the charity.
The trust also runs the nearby Cotswold Chine School and owns six properties in the village and an area of woodland. Villagers suggested on Friday that other properties had been approached.
One resident asked: "Are we looking at a charitable organisation or are we looking at a property company?"
Another said: "We could live together but they want to expand territorially."
Mr Clifton-Brown said: "Owning so many properties in a small village could have a damaging effect on the fabric of the community."
Jake Lukas, Novalis Trust chief executive, told the SNJ: "We would like to use the Halfway House to provide better teaching accommodation and increase the range of activities we offer.
“We would also like to be able to provide some meaningful work experience for the children by using part of the pub as a small-scale café and shop to give the children an experience and opportunity they may not otherwise have.
“It is our responsibility to make decisions in the interests of the children we are here to care for and educate.
“We are sure that the children will gain more benefit if the Halfway House building is used as part of the school rather than as a pub. We welcome the opportunity to discuss the benefits of these initiatives with Mr Clifton-Brown.”
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