THE future of a Ribble Valley pub which dates back to the early 1700s is in doubt after the owner announced its intention to sell.

Community groups in Ribchester have been invited to express an interest in taking over the White Bull Hotel from Enterprise Inns.

The Grade II-listed building is included on the Ribble Valley Register of Community Assets, which gives community groups the right to acquire it to be used by villagers before it would be put on the open market.

However, Mark Ashton, the partner of current licensee Shan Parkinson, said the move had 'ruined his business'.

He said: "I have fridges full of food and barrels full of beer but no one is coming in because they think it's closing.

"There are notices around the village saying that it's going to close and that is not true.

"If no community group comes forward then it will be put up for sale and someone else will come in and run it.

"It's very frustrating for me as this is supposed to be the busiest time of year for us but now it's completely ruined."


As well as notices being posted around the village, a Save The White Bull Public House Facebook page has also been set up to encourage groups to submit bids.

The latest concerns over its future come only 18 months after Rick Smithwick took over the tenancy of the pub after a two-year struggle by residents to stop it being converted into flats and lost to the village forever.

However Mr Smithwick has since departed and Ms Parkinson took over the reins from another tenant in August.

Marc Mallum, a member of the Friends of The White Bull, said: "Discussions are ongoing between the friends and the parish council over whether to submit a bid.

"If we decide not to then it will be put on the open market.

"Our main concern is if it's sold to a property developer and it's turned into flats."

The council said discussions were now open on the future of the building and said it is giving interested parties a window of opportunity to put together bids which could keep the pub as a building used for by residents in the village.

Community groups wishing to be considered a potential bidder are invited to state their intention in writing to Diane Rice, head of legal and democratic services, at Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe, BB7 2RA, by Tuesday, January 17.

A spokesman for the council said: "They will have until Tuesday, June 6, to action their proposal, after which the pub’s owners will have 12 months to sell up."