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Pub owner insists it isn't closing after call for takeover campaign

A Conservative proposal for a campaign to take over a pub that appeared to be up for sale has been greeted with surprise by its owner – who says she is not closing it down.

The calls came after a post on a Facebook group, Maidenhead Past and Present, noted The Ark in Ray Street is listed for sale online.

But while owner Brenda Boyce has not yet taken down the entry, she was adamant it is staying open, was going nowhere and annoyed she had not been contacted by Maidenhead’s Tories.

She first heard her pub was the subject of a potential takeover campaign on the Facebook group on Monday night after a member of staff asked if she had seen it.

“The pub is not closing, I can tell you that,” Brenda said to the Advertiser on Tuesday, adding that she was expecting patrons to enjoy the Six Nations match between England and Wales on Saturday.

“We are going to have a great weekend,” she said.

Despite the pub still going strong, council leader Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) floated the idea of a campaign to buy the pub on his ward’s Facebook page after linking to the Rightmove listing, which gives the property a guide price of £700,000.

“A lovely community pub which is for sale… Could be made even better,” he wrote in the post, which he also shared to the Maidenhead Past and Present group.

“Maybe we should get a campaign going to buy it? This is the last pure pub left in Maidenhead Riverside.”

Brenda had not been spoken to by Cllr Dudley or a member of his party.

Cllr Dudley later posted that ‘it’s not closing but is for sale’ which ‘always brings danger for pubs’, which he reiterated to the Advertiser, and proposed starting a crowdfunder. It follows a series of the borough’s watering holes which have been put up for sale by landlords, usually pub companies, which are then redeveloped into homes.

Recent community pub campaigns have had some success in the borough in the past three years, with the Craufurd Arms in Maidenhead and The Swan in Clewer having been taken over by patrons.

But Brenda disputes that the pub needs a similar campaign to save it – not least because she is planning on going nowhere and only hasn’t removed the listing because ‘I have never bothered taking it off’.

“Simon Dudley – what the heck?” she added.

Although miffed, she seemed unfazed by the non-starter campaign. Near the Maidenhead United scarf on the mantel in the cosy corner pub are printed pictures of famous visitors who will be happy to hear it remains open – including Theresa May and Ross Kemp.

W A planning application to build two houses to the pub’s rear with Brenda’s permission has been called in for discussion by councillors by Cllr Dudley.

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