Despite the snow last Thursday evening, we had a great turnout for our meeting at the Booth Museum, where the Save The Dyke Pub Group updated supporters on the campaign.

We invited Dave Boyle, from Community Shares, to open the meeting by explaining what the ACV means, and how the community could buy the pub. Being listed as an Asset of Community Value means that if a planning application is made to change the Dyke from a pub, the Council can object based on the ACV. If the owners want to sell, the Save The Dyke Group must first be offered the opportunity to bid for the pub.

Although at first the idea of buying and running a property of this scale might seem far fetched, Dave explained the various grants and mortgages which can be applied for – leaving a feasible percentage for the community to raise. This is something we’re now actively researching, and we’ll let you know more soon.

The recent Brighton Argus article was discussed – where Martin Webb claims he ‘will reinstate half the building as a pub’. Although some local residents felt this was good news, we pointed out that the article failed to mention Mr Webb’s plan to build houses in the garden, which had been discussed in an informal meeting with the Save The Dyke Group in December. In the Brighton and Hove Independent, Mr Webb revealed his plans were for a ‘cosy, decent-sized pub with a couple of houses in the back garden and a flat’. The attendees noted that this ‘compromise’ would result in the likely loss of the kitchen, the beer garden and the large areas perfect for group meetings – in fact, all the things that made The Dyke a popular venue according to our community survey. There were also concerns raised about what effect building houses would have on the local area.

Next, Catherine Swann from the Save The Dyke group explained that we should be cautious, because Martin Webb’s offer may well be a ‘trojan horse’ tactic that’s common from developers. They keep the community happy by offering a smaller pub, but with no intention of making it work (read more about this trojan horse tactic in The Huffington Post & Guardian).

Ian Fardell went on to explain that despite rumours to the contrary, there are people interested in buying the Dyke Pub – and keeping it as a large pub/restaurant. Most attendees agreed that their preferred situation would be for someone to buy the Dyke and convert it back into a full sized pub or pub/restaurant – but many were open to the idea of clubbing together as a community to buy the pub if necessary – and we’ll be looking into this soon.

Stay tuned for details of our next meeting – and please comment with any questions or queries.