A VILLAGE community is hoping to take advantage of a second opportunity to buy its final pub.

In January, the owner of The White Horse in Stonesfield – Jonathan Bowers – said he hoped the pub would reopen ‘within a couple of months’.

It followed a community attempt to purchase the West Oxfordshire watering hole, which was ultimately pipped by Mr Bowers.

However, a spokesperson for the district council told this newspaper that Mr Bowers now intends to ‘dispose’ of the pub and that relevant parties will be informed.

READ AGAIN: The White Horse pub in Stonesfield is seeking tenants

Steve Callaghan, chair of the Stonesfield Community Pub steering committee, said no price had been set yet by Mr Bowers.

“It’s positive that it gives us another go – although even if we go ahead and get the money, it doesn’t mean it will come off, as we saw last time,” said Mr Callaghan.

“The next steps will be to trigger the moratorium period – we’ll have until the end of October to raise the money, so we’ll be relaunching the shares offer.

“We’re lucky that most of the village is still behind us.”

Witney Gazette: The White Horse in January. Picture: Ed NixThe White Horse in January. Picture: Ed Nix

Mr Callaghan pointed to the success of The White House in Bladon, a pub now run by the community after an initiative to save it.

“The White House is a great example, we have a business plan and we’d like to do something similar to what the White House has done,” said Mr Callaghan.

“Ours is the last pub in the village and a community our size needs it.”

Witney Gazette: Residents in the village of Bladon, pictured here in October 2019, successfully fought to save their pub. Picture: Ed NixResidents in the village of Bladon, pictured here in October 2019, successfully fought to save their pub. Picture: Ed Nix

READ AGAIN: Community to get keys for pub Churchill ‘learnt to drink’ at

A spokesperson for West Oxfordshire District Council said: “The owner has confirmed his intention to dispose of the White Horse and for the council to treat it as a disposal which is not ‘exempt’ (ie it is not being sold as a going concern).

“WODC has, therefore, confirmed that we will be notifying all relevant parties of the intention to sell and that the moratorium period set out in the legislation has therefore been triggered.”

Witney MP Robert Courts said he will support community efforts to buy the pub ‘in any way he can’.

“I share the concerns of local residents about the continued uncertainty surrounding the future of the White Horse pub, and support the community’s desire for Stonesfield to boast a thriving pub that the entire village can enjoy and be proud of,” he said.

“WODC has been notified of the current owner’s intention to sell and, owing to the pub’s status as a listed community asset, the council has triggered a moratorium enabling the community time to prepare a bid for the pub.

“I am encouraged that the community is intending to make a bid and I will continue to support their efforts in any way I can.”

Mr Bowers has been approached for comment.

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice