Customers at the Cock Tavern want Camden Council to intervene to protect pub
Published: 9 January, 2014
by PAVAN AMARA
PENSIONERS have raised more than £5,000 to stop a pub in the heart of Somers Town being closed.
The Cock Tavern in Phoenix Road is fighting to stay up and running after conditions in its tenancy were changed.
It will now be able to stay open until March, three months longer than was initially feared.
Vaughan Thomas, who is vice-chairman of the Save The Cock Tavern campaigning committee, said: “The pub raised £5,300 through a social evening that auctioned off football memorabilia. The money will go towards legal fees and money owed to the owners.”
The freehold of the building was bought four years ago by property company Flamestrike, which now asks for rent to be paid three months in advance. In the past, rent has been paid weekly and the pub was able to buy discounted beer through the old brewery owners.
Sligo-born landlady Sheila Gavigan, who has been running the pub for 13 years, said she was not able to comment. But Mr Thomas said the committee had formed a long-term plan to nominate the pub as an “asset of community value”, meaning the council could have a responsibility to protect the pub.
He said: “So, if the developers still want to change the use of the pub to residential flats, the council will have to agree first. We’re waiting to find out if the council will approve it as an asset. It’s a delaying tactic.”
John Adamson, a regular at the pub, said its customers thought of it as “God’s own waiting room”, adding: “It is the last bastion of community. If this goes, this whole town will die a death. Over the years this place has been the DSS office, it’s saved the dole queue hundreds, because if we fall on hard times the other men help out.”
Jim Keever, 74, said: “We all have a trade in here, so if you need an electrician, a plumber, whoever, you’ll find your man here. This is a family affair.
“It’s a mixture of Irish, Scottish and English, but there’s never any trouble. I don’t go in some pubs because they’re like Northern Ireland, but not this one. I can be a Catholic and the man opposite me can be a Protestant and we’re not going to hit each other, we’re going to talk. I bought 15 raffle tickets on the social evening, not because I’d win anything but because I want to do everything I can to help save this, it’s my home.”
Dickie Adam, 65, said if the pub closed there would be more social problems in the area.
“No one wants to be on their own all day,” he said.
“So you’ll get everyone getting together in people’s council houses instead of here. After a few drinks there’ll be lots of noise and then the neighbours will complain. Multiply that by the number of people in here and you end up with problems on the estates.
“You keep this here and we can talk as loud as we want, have our relaxation, our neighbours still love us.”
The New Journal has not been able to contact Flamestrike. County Estate, which has been dealing with Ms Gavigan on behalf of Flamestrike, said it did not want to make any comment.