It’s only one cheer so far
"One cheer, not ‘three’, for Palmers’ of Bridport offer to waive 5 years rent on the Old Swan pub, Toller Porcorum.... saving maybe £25,000 total over 5 years – (though Palmers would anyway recoup this on beer sales). Why ‘one’ cheer?
Because Chesterton-Humberts, Palmers’ agents, appear to have omitted the re-start-up cost of about £300,000 needed to save/update the disintegrating, boarded-up, sodden, flaking building. (Palmers shut the pub 11 years ago, leaving it rotting, despite a Govt Inspector ruling it ‘viable’). Rainwater has flooded through the roof – (despite residents telling Palmers). Mr Connelly, of Save the Old Swan Group, said at WDDC in November that Palmers say residents would have to find the £300,000 start-up cost!
WDDC/Palmers have acted very slowly since the SOS November 2008 report requesting Compulsory Purchase. We know that in January, WDDC invited two Toller village individuals - ‘not there as representatives of the Parish Council’ – to a meeting with them/Palmers, begging the Parish-Council-mandated SOS group not to attend - or Palmers might cancel the meeting! (WDDC subsequently offered Toller £3k for a Business Plan, but delayed commissioning for months. Meanwhile Tollers’s B&B and Camping enterprises, etc go on losing bookings because there is no pub.)
Chesterton-Humberts say the 5-year rent-free offer - with the residents paying the £300,000 start-up cost - is ‘generous’! Others would say that - having already triggered a 6-figure loss on the Toller economy in 11 years by shutting, and after creating a ghastly eye-sore - Palmers could finally now sell the “pub” to the village for £1, or WDDC should at last use its powers to compulsory purchase.
Will Palmers - knowing their ancestors bought wisely into the business just over 100 years ago – share the community view that their wealth, then and now, actually derives from the community, and this small act of magnanimity, setting aside their ‘Dilapidate and Rot’ stance, would lead droves of people to return to ‘drinking Palmers’ in Toller and throughout West Dorset – giving all a ‘win-win’ – ringing in a communal ‘three cheers’!