'We will fight for this' - Anger over sudden closure of 1930s Lowestoft pub
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A pub manager has expressed his anger over the imminent closure of a pub which has been at the heart of its community since the 1930s.
The Fighting Cocks, in Carlton Road, Lowestoft, is set to close, with the use of the premises expected to change.
Pub manager Ian Chilley said its last day open would be on Sunday, and the local community are up in arms about the ordeal.
A letter has been written to Waveney MP Peter Aldous raising their concerns about the closure, and the future use of the building.
Mr Chilley, has been manager of the pub for the last three months and said he only found out about the closure by accident.
Now an online petition to try and save the pub has reached almost 300 signatures and counting.
"We will fight for this," he said.
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"The Fighting Cocks isn't just a pub but a social setting for lots of our regulars, sports teams and veterans who will no longer have a place to go.
"We actively care about our customers.
"There are many elderly men and ladies who come daily just to be able to socialise with others who care.
"We have one elderly gentleman who comes most days and speaks with the young, old and anyone who has time to spend with him.
"We have his phone number and when he hadn't been in for a few days we called him only to find that he had been unwell and in hospital.
"He was so grateful that someone had cared enough to call and ask after him.
"It is this reason that we need this pub to stay open.
"It is also a family and a community within itself.
"It is also the only remaining pub in the area and will leave a massive hole if it disappears."
Various members of the community turned up on Tuesday, January 4, in protest over the pub operating under a different use.
Mr Chilley, who also lives across the road from the pub, said he is angry that no one was consulted about the change in use of the premises as well.
He added: "For our veterans particularly, it is a safe social space and really helps with their mental health.
"I may have only been here for three months but I want to carry on, this is the perfect job for me and I've loved getting to know all the customers."
MP for Waveney Peter Aldous has encouraged Mr Chilley to register the property as an "Asset of Community Value" which would give people the "Community Right to Buy".
Mr Chilley is in the process of doing this.
Peter Aldous said: “From the correspondence that I have received from constituents, it is clear that the Fighting Cocks is a popular and much loved pub and there is a desire that it should continue to serve the local community.
"It may well be appropriate for the property to be registered as an “Asset of Community Value”, which then gives the local community a “Community Right to Buy”.
"Grants can then be obtained to do this. If this is a course that those who use and support the Fighting Cocks wish to pursue, then I’ll do what I can to assist them.”
According to East Suffolk Council the owner of the pub has not applied for planning permission to change the usage of the premises.
According to East Suffolk Council's premises licencing register, Ms Melanie Whatmough is the designated premises supervisor for the Fighting Cocks pub under the Licencing Act 2003.
Ms Whatmough, has been the designated premises supervisor since June 1, 2021.
A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said: "Alternative uses would indeed require planning permission.
"There is no record of a recent planning application for a change of use of the Fighting Cocks."