Appeal for heritage items to be replaced

PORTISHEAD residents are appealing for a Victorian lamppost and flagstones to be replaced at the site of a former pub.

Tesco is turning the Royal Oak at West Hill in to an Express store, but despite promises to retain attractive features, the ornate lamppost and original flagstones were among the first items to be ditched.

At a public meeting earlier this month, corporate affairs manager Sophie Akokhia told residents contractors had removed the items without authority and had been reprimanded. She said because of the strong public opinion she would find out if they could be replaced but residents say they are still waiting for an answer.

Ms Akokhia told the Times: “The stones were uneven in places and to ensure the safety of our customers we will be resurfacing the area. We appreciate some residents will be disappointed by the removal of these stones but we are retaining most of the building’s original features, including the sash timber windows, the stone surrounding wall and cast-iron gantry sign. We are also pleased to be repairing the roof and clearing the area surrounding the building, which has become rundown and overgrown.”

Those who were once regulars at the pub are also calling for Tesco to preserve the memorabilia that adorned its walls, which included historic photos of members of the community and sports trophies dating back to 1950s and 60s.

Bev Hockings of Blackdown Road said many local families would welcome the guardianship of the items until a place can be found to display them again. She said: “The items are part of West Hill’s history and we want to make sure they’re not sent to the tip.”

Many locals are furious at the intrusion of Tesco in their community and have formed an action group against it.

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Meanwhile North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox has written to Secretary of State for Communities asking for a review on current planning laws which allow supermarkets to open in former pubs without the need for change of use planning consent.