Take a walk down Tarring High Street and you can hardly miss the original blue lantern of The Castle Inn above a cottage door. The Castle was one of four pubs to grace the streets of Tarring with another the Black Horse around the corner in Church Street. Only two remain – The George & Dragon and The Vine.
Pubs are part of the community and rightly regarded by regulars as community assets. Sadly we have lost many Worthing pubs in recent years and residents have decided to take a stand – ‘enough is enough’.
The Localism Act 2011, as part of the Government’s community empowerment agenda, requires a local council to maintain a list of ‘community assets’. As far as Worthing Daily is aware Worthing Borough Council does not have such a list or if it does it is blank.
Six months ago regulars at The Vine collected the required signatures for the pub to be declared a community asset and presented their proposal to Worthing Borough Council. After much delay, and after Mr Bruce Webster prompted action by asking a question at Full Council, the community finally received the Council’s decision on Tuesday (May 6th).
The decision was to not include The Vine on the ‘Register of Community Assets’ as in the Council’s opinion the level of use by the community did not justify inclusion. Yet it was members of that community who asked for inclusion to safeguard the pub being closed and sold off at some point in the future. If the pub was listed there would be a six-month moratorium should the pub be put up for sale giving the community the chance to arrange a bid.
The decision was reached after consultation between the WBC Head of Planning and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Bryan Turner – neither of which are members of the Tarring community. The community can appeal the decision with the appeal being heard by the WBC Director of Communities in consultation with the Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Yallop – again neither members of the Tarring community. Worthing Daily would have hoped at least the three Tarring ward councillors would have been included in the consultation.
Worthing Daily has high hopes for community involvement by the new WBC senior management but on this evidence they have some work to do before the officers and Cabinet members ‘get it.’