Punters raise a glass as Blackpool pub is saved

Locals appealed to JD Wetherspoon not to sell The Auctioneer

Locals appealed to JD Wetherspoon not to sell The Auctioneer

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Drinkers have raised a glass to the news their local pub is set to stay open.

Regulars at The Auctioneer have been battling to keep their favourite bar open ever since pub giant JD Wetherspoon announced the Lytham Road site would be put on the market.

Now Hawthorn Leisure bosses have announced they are the new owners of The Auctioneer.

And the 20 employees currently at the pub will continued to be employed at the new venue.

And those who gather in the pub are hoping for a bright future.

However they have called on Hawthorn not to make too many changes - with real ale and pub grub top of their checklist.

Carol Turner, who was one of 2,500 people who signed a petition calling on JD Wetherspoon to retain the pub is cautiously optimistic.

She said: “We are pleased it is going to be staying as a pub.

“But we do have some concerns.

“Are they going to keep the real ales on?

“Are they going to keep the prices low?

“We are just hoping it’s still going to be a good local, a place where people want to go.”

Carol hopes there will be benefits.

“It will be nice to be able to listen to the commentary on some of the sports games.

“That will be a positive.

“But they have to keep the prices reasonable and not make too many changes.”

Shaun Holt is hoping the pub will go from strength to strength.

He said: “I can see it being a good thing. The only differences will be positive. There is talk of live music and about having Sky Sports.

“As far as I know there will still be the cask ales. I drink in here at the weekend.

“It’s a good place for local people to come and meet and we hope it stays that way.”

Jeff Rey said: “It’s good to see the pub staying open after the fight to save it.

“I just hope they keep on the selection of ales, and the food.

“I know it’s not top cuisine but it’s very popular and people do come in just for things like fish Friday.”

Hawthorn has already confirmed the premises will remain a pub and staff retained.

In England and Wales 29 pubs are closing every week at the rate of more than four a day.

And the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) says the number of pub closures are continuing to rise.

In the last 30 years, the number of licensed premises in the UK has dropped from 69,000 to less than 50,000.

Chief executive for Hawthorn Leisure, Gerry Carroll said: “We are delighted to welcome management and staff into the Hawthorn team as they transfer across with the pub.

“It will be business as usual from completion and our relentless focus on people, quality and delivering great value will ensure that we continue to offer a fantastic proposition for our customers.”

The firm will not disclose the price it paid for The Auctioneer, but confirmed it was one of 11 premises it was taking on from the JD Wetherspoon estate.

The deal is expected to be completed in the middle of May.

The purchase is Hawthorne’s fourth since June 2014 when the group started trading, and takes the number of pubs in its estate to more than 350, comprising of managed, franchised managed, leased and tenanted premises.