The canal-side Barge Inn at Honeystreet, near Pewsey, is to reopen on December 14. It was closed in October when the lottery-funded community project that had been running it declared itself insolvent.
The freeholder of the Barge Inn, Ian McIver, plans to have the new tenants signed up in time and is sure the reopening date will be met.
Mr McIver has been completing what the Barge’s quirky website calls ‘Phase 2 of the refurbishment programme’: “We look forward to welcoming you back for another season, with a whole new cast and set.”
Mr McIver told Marlborough News Online that he thinks the interior will now look more like a pub and less like a wine bar: “I hope people will like it.”
Work is also underway on landscaping the beer garden – though the heavy rains have not been helpful.
Meanwhile new information has emerged on the lottery funding paid to the Barge Inn Community Project (BICP) which covered, among other things, a twenty year lease on the pub which is now void. When the insolvent BICP had to close the pub, staff were made redundant.
A Freedom of Information Act request by Marlborough News Online to the Big Lottery has revealed that in total BICP received £488,920 from Big Lottery programmes.
This was divided into ‘Village SOS Round One’ funding which provided £39,930 (on proof of expenditure) for development and a £10,000 advance towards capital costs and towards the salary of the Village Champion. BICP did not, as MNO had previously reported, receive from the lottery a £50,000 feasibility study.
‘Village SOS Round Two’ funding has totalled £434,010 – which included the Village Champion’s salary of £32,942.02. In addition there was a £5,000 grant for marketing and, from another lottery programme, £9,980 for a yurt on the Barge Inn’s campsite.
The Big Lottery told MNO: “The Village SOS round two grant is still open as we are still investigating the extent of the breaches of the grant agreement to allow us to take appropriate action.”
They do know, however, that BICP breached two of the grant conditions: ‘the project has discontinued and the grant holder is insolvent.’
The Big Lottery has also confirmed that no lottery funds were used towards some of BICP’s other aims such as building a village shop, a new toilet block for the campsite, site drainage – or for the dismantling and rebuilding of the nineteenth century wooden barn which is going ahead. Mr McIver is paying for this to provide the Barge Inn and the village with an arts and entertainment venue called The Barefoot Barn.