Anger as pub gets pink and gold makeover

A ROW has broken out in the heart of Constable Country following the controversial makeover of a village pub.

Lizzie Parry

A ROW has broken out in the heart of Constable Country following the controversial makeover of a village pub.

The Black Horse in Stratford St Mary, the most southerly village in Suffolk, has traditionally been painted black and white for the last 300 years, since the days when it was a popular drinking den for notorious highwaymen on the main coaching route to London.

But local residents were stunned when the landlords, Jim and Olwen Westaway, recently revamped the pub - changing the colour to pink and gold and renaming it the Golden Barrels.

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Mr and Mrs Westaway have also blocked the inn's car park with gold-painted beer kegs.

Incensed villagers were angered at the colour scheme and many have vowed to boycott the pub.

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Former customer, builder Gary James, 38, from neighbouring Dedham, said: “It's unbelievable. The Black Horse is a lovely old building and used to be the busiest pub in the village.

“When the new people moved in they advertised it as a bikers' venue and the character changed. They used to refer to villagers as 'civilians'.”

Another villager, a regular in the pub for more than 30 years said: “What has happened to the pub is a terrible shame.

“They were also unhappy about drivers using the car park to turn round and so blocked it off with 20 gold-painted aluminium barrels to keep cars out.

“The only people to benefit from the goings-on are the village's other two pubs, The Anchor and The Swan both of which are much busier these days.”

Clerk to the parish council Jayne Baldwin added: “The whole community is concerned at the changes that had taken place at the pub - especially the odd colour scheme.

“It used to be very popular but these people attracted the biker crowd with live music.”

Mr Westaway, 59, and his 54-year-old wife, say the pub is now a trust and they are running it on behalf of a charity.

Mrs Westaway refused to discuss the changes at the pub but confirmed it is now run by a charity that has helped, among others, the Essex Air Ambulance.

She said: “We have not repainted the pub - we have simply used coloured wood preservative to protect it.”

Babergh District Council is aware of the change of colour to the Grade Two listed building and could now take enforcement action if they fail to return the pub to its original colour by the beginning of October.

Cate Buck, environmental protection officer, said: “There is an enforcement case open against the Black Horse in Stratford St Mary and we are in the process of sorting the matter out.

“GRS Inns that own the pub have been given until the beginning of October to get the building repainted back to the original colours.

“If they fail to do so we will serve them with an enforcement notice which will involve the council stating the breach and what is required to be done. They would be given a certain time in which to comply. We hope that they will.”

The owners of the Black Horse Norfolk-based GRS Inns said that the future of the Black Horse was now in the hands of the company's lawyers.

The pub was closed yesterday and nobody was available for further comment.

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