RESIDENTS shocked by the closure of their local pub have formed a new group to try and bring it back to the community.

Dyke Pub Preservation Society aims to buy the freehold of the former Dyke Pub and Kitchen in Dyke Road, Hove, which suddenly closed last September.

The group hopes to retain the entire property so it becomes a pub, garden and community space for groups and functions.

DPPS, which is independent of campaign group Save the Dyke Pub, is now set to carry out an independent valuation of the building and grounds so that they can invite interested parties to contribute to funds.

The group has met owners Martin Webb and Warrick Armsby-Ward and says they are open to reaching an fair agreement.

Chairwoman Woody Alva said: “The owners have shown us round and I’m delighted to report that the pipes are clean, the kitchen is in good order and there is so much potential for the premises to be a huge benefit for the people who live in the area.

“We are working closely with industry professionals to ensure that the business plan is tight and the financial side of things is in order. We look forward to sharing our detailed plans with the community shortly.”

A Tory city councillor has called on Mr Webb, who closed the pub, to do the “decent thing” by selling it to the community.

Councillor GeoffreyTheobald said: “I always thought Martin was a very generous individual who wanted to help his community. But I’m extremely disappointed that, having taken over the Dyke, he suddenly and without notice closed it and turned it into an antiques emporium.

“I went to the latest very well-attended community meeting to which Martin was invited but didn’t attend. It was said what we had all feared – that Martin’s real intention is to build two houses in the pub garden.

“It also emerged if the community were interested in buying the pub from him, he would require nearly twice the sum he paid for it three years ago, £1.6 million compared to £900,000.

“I do not know whether these are his true intentions and plans but knowing how much distress this has caused I would have thought Martin could have come to an agreement with them to allow them to purchase it and still make a significant profit.

“Come on Martin, do the decent thing and negotiate a fair price so the community can have their much-loved pub back.”

Mr Webb was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.