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Regulars take bungee plunge for fighting fund to save Southampton's Bittern pub
IT was a daredevil fundraiser that proved campaigners are ready to bounce back in their bid to save their beloved boozer.
From a towering 200ft crane, 11 brave punters took their support of the threatened Bittern pub to new heights.
Each of those taking the jaw-dropping bungee jump were being sponsored to help pay for the costs of mounting a legal challenge amid plans to turn the pub, in Thornhill Park Road, Southampton, into a McDonald’s.
And the campaigners will be springing back into action in a different way this week, when they bring their crusade to the heart of Westminster. Southampton Itchen MP John Denham is preparing to raise the future of the Bittern during an adjournment debate at the House of Commons on Wednesday.
On Saturday, pub manager Glen McInnes was the first to take the leap of faith and plunge off the bungee platform as he showed his commitment to the cause.
“There was a great view up there – but to be honest I was a bit wobbly,” he said.
“There were a couple of people taking part who were scared of heights who were looking a bit sheepish, but fair play to them they conquered their fears.
“Everyone is prepared to do what they can for the Bittern – there is a great amount of support.”
As previously reported, the current owners, Punch Taverns, are planning to sell the watering hole to the burger giant.
But in response regulars and locals fought a successful campaign to have the pub listed as an “asset of community value” earlier this year.
This should have given local people the chance to raise the money to buy the pub and invest in developing it as a community pub.
However, hopes were dashed when a legal loophole enabled the owners to avoid the right to bid. Campaigners are still hoping that Punch will agree to sell to them at market price, but in the meantime are fundraising to pay for a legal fight with events like the daring bungee jump.
Denham will challenge ministers to act on the legal loopholes which are preventing communities up and down the country saving their locals. He will also highlight weaknesses in the planning laws which enable pubs to be turned into fast food restaurants or supermarkets without planning permission.
He said: “The Bittern in Southampton could be saved and become a real community pub, owned by the community for the community. But instead legal loopholes have got in the way.
“This isn’t just a problem in Southampton, which is why I’ll be pressing the Minister for action during Wednesday’s debate.”
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