Protesters made a stand against Co-op’s plans for historic pub

Villagers outside the Royal Oak Pub in East Wittering, protesting against tehe Co-op's plans for a bigger store on the site
Villagers outside the Royal Oak Pub in East Wittering, protesting against tehe Co-op's plans for a bigger store on the site

VILLAGERS have marched through East Wittering to protest against a new Co-op.

Around 30 residents made a stand on Easter Monday with placards and banners, and chanted ‘save our village’ as they made their way through the village.

The Co-op, which has a store in East Wittering, plans to move on to the site of the Royal Oak pub, and build a larger store.

But some villagers are outraged at the plans and want the 300-year-old building to be left untouched.

Independent traders in the village are also concerned a larger 
Co-op could damage their footfall.

“It will have an impact, especially during the winter” said greengrocer Sevey Mastronardi, who owns Horrocks.

“It will take the footfall away from the village. Business is hard enough as it is.”

Dan Lucas, who holidays in the Witterings several times a year, joined the march and was concerned about the fate of the village he had visited all his life.

“When I need to go 
to a supermarket I always choose the 
Co-op but there is no real need for them to extend,” he said.

He also said the pub was ‘at the heart of the village’, and the alternative of supermarkets selling cheap alcohol was ‘no way to build a community’.

Adam Clapton, who lives in the village, said: “We have a nice Co-op there and we do not need a bigger one. We have all these shops, but they will be put out of business.”

A group of villagers have launched a ‘Save Our Village’ campaign, to stop the redevelopment of the Royal Oak site, and meet in the pub each Tuesday at 7pm.

Ted Merdler, head of brand engagement for the Southern Co-operative, said: “Many people, including our current customers, were in favour of the proposal, but some people were disappointed that Enterprise Inns had decided to close the pub and sell it as a site for possible redevelopment.”

Store manager Kelly Hinshelwood said the new store would 
‘ensure that we can offer a much better service including improved parking facilities’.