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Campaigners accuse owners of Ed Miliband’s local of ploy to ‘justify pub’s sale’

PUBLISHED: 15:30 12 November 2014 | UPDATED: 16:50 12 November 2014

From left pub regular Sean Dillon, Dartmouth Park conversation area advisory committee chairman Patrick Lefevre, Cllr Oliver Lewis who chaired the meeting and local campaigner Anna Kusner. Picture: Polly Hancock

From left pub regular Sean Dillon, Dartmouth Park conversation area advisory committee chairman Patrick Lefevre, Cllr Oliver Lewis who chaired the meeting and local campaigner Anna Kusner. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Campaigners fighting to save a community pub have accused its owners of deliberately making it a worse place to drink to turn it into a more attractive prospect for property developers.

Regulars of The Dartmouth Arms in Dartmouth Park want to protect the pub from being turned into flats after it was put on the market by owners Faucet Inn for £1.8million.

Several have accused Faucet Inn of purposefully discouraging punters from using the Dartmouth Road pub by downgrading its appearance in order to justify selling it off.

The claims were made at a fiery public meeting last week where residents discussed potentially buying the pub as a community.

One drinker cried out: “Why would you come in here? It’s absolutely gross.”

Another bemoaned the removal of the pub’s television and its decision to stop screening football matches, and said: “I used to take my boys to watch matches in here because I knew there wouldn’t be any trouble.”

However, Patrick Lefevre, chairman of the Dartmouth Park Conversation Area Advisory Committee, was one of several who said the best way to stop the pub being handed over to developers was to use it “in spite” of the changes.

He added: “We have to do everything practical that we can do to counteract that.”

Highgate Labour councillor Oliver Lewis, who chaired the meeting, said: “It’s really important that people are supporting the pub, use the pub, and encourage the use of the pub.”

The Dartmouth Arms, known as Labour leader Ed Miliband’s local, has already won planning permission to convert its upstairs rooms into flats.

Its high valuation has led the campaigners to fear that the whole pub would have to be converted into housing for any potential buyers to make a profit.

They decided at the meeting last Tuesday that they would follow in the wake of successful movements to save other pubs in the area, including The Old White Bear in Hampstead, and apply to have the pub designated as an “asset of community value”.

The status would grant it extra protection from development and give the community the chance to buy the pub.

Mr Lefevre said the campaigners face a “difficult battle” ahead.

He later added: “This is the last pub in the area which is located in a neighbourhood centre in the heart of a community. 
“If we can’t preserve the pub here, we can’t anywhere.”

The group’s next public meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 3 at 7.30pm at The Dartmouth Arms. Faucet Inn did not respond to a request for comment.


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