A former councillor says she is ‘disgusted’ nothing is being done to save a historic pub from being ruined.
But the current councillor says hope may be on the horizon, though it may not ever reopen as a pub.
The 1585 Bottle Inn at Marshwood – for years the venue for the famous nettle eating championships – has been closed since 2019, when its owner Michael Brookes died. His widow Pauline moved to Australia and it has since lain empty.
Villagers say Paul Clement Richards, otherwise known as ‘Snapper’ – a colourful character who holds directorships in several businesses – has been removing items from the building – most notably the ridge thatch – and it is being allowed to rot.
Jacqui Sewell, who was previously councillor for the area, said: “I am disgusted it’s been allowed to disintegrate. I lived in Marshwood and brought up my daughters there and have such happy memories of the pub.
“We keep asking questions but all we get is words.”
Jacqui says the council could exercise its right to buy the building under a compulsory purchase order.
However the current councillor for the area Simon Christopher says action is being taken ‘shortly’ and that three separate departments of Dorset Council are working together on the issue.
He said: “I am actively involved and planning, legal and enforcement are involved.
“I anticipate that the matter will move forward shortly given all the efforts the officers are making.
“Many pubs have been converted to residential, some others to other commercial uses. It’s not for me to speculate on the motives of any present or future owners.”
Cllr Christopher added: “The local hospitality sector has had certain difficulties. However I’m very pleased that the Broadwindsor pub has reopened – my wife and I donated money towards that and it’s terrific, but that’s only been made possible because of the cooperation of Palmer’s Brewery. I like many others have a great concern for the listed building and the site.”
A Dorset Council spokesman said: “Our planning enforcement are currently investigating the situation.”