2nd November

Somerset pub in Marston could reopen after takeover bid

AN OXFORD-based pub company has stepped in to attempt to save a sorely-missed local.

Three years after pints were last poured in the Somerset in Marston Road, the brains behind Jericho’s Rickety Press and East Oxford’s Rusty Bicycle has launched a bid to reopen it.

Dodo Pub Company, which runs the popular gastropubs, has confirmed it is negotiations to take over at the Somerset.

The firm is understood to be in the final stages of agreeing a deal and will submit a licensing application on Monday.

Marston residents who have campaigned tirelessly to save the building - the last pub in the area - are now anxiously awaiting the contract being finalised before celebrations can begin.

READ MORE: 'Pop-up pub' shows big support for boozer 

Co-organiser of the Save our Somerset campaign Wendy Twist, said: “We know the owner has agreed to lease the building to a pub company, and keep it as a pub.

“Dodo is in negotiations. Nothing is 100 per cent confirmed - we’re not counting our chickens yet - but it’s obviously very hopeful.”

If a contract is agreed, the pub could be open again early in the new year.

Supporters have been emailed an update with details about what Dodo could do with the building.

Taking a similar approach to their existing pubs, the Somerset would have a ‘relaxed but upbeat’ atmosphere, opening from 8am every day for breakfast.

It would only offer live music on special occasions but run a regular programme of other events which could include pub quizzes and farmers markets.

Food could include wood-fired pizzas and a full menu of small bites, salads and burgers as well as breakfast and brunch.

Councillor for the area Mick Haines, who used to play for the pub’s darts team, said it was ‘fantastic news’.

He added: “I think it’s the best outcome we could have wished for.

“People have been fighting for it all along, we have all stuck together and have never given up.

“We’ve proved how much demand there is and I’m sure it will be a big success.”

The Somerset closed in 2014 and has sat empty ever since – one of 15 pubs to have shut in the city in a decade.

The building was mooted as an Islamic Cultural Centre in March but hundreds have since attended pop up pub events in an attempt to show how well-used a pub in that area would be.

12th October

New memorial bench nods to late Oxford Irishman Billy Munnelly

THE memory of 'one of the best known Irishmen in Oxford' will forever live on in Marston, Oxford, as a memorial bench is unveiled.

Billy Munnelly died in July 2017, age 70, but was known to many for playing a huge part in Gaelic football and Aunt Sally in the city.

He came to Oxford as a teenager in the 1960s and was involved with the Eire Og Oxford Irish Gaelic football and hurling club for more than 50 years.

He also raised thousands of pounds for charitable causes over the years and as such became a well-known face to many in Oxford.

Now his memory has been sealed in the very foundations of the city as a memorial bench has been put up in Marston.

Oxford City councillor Mick Haines has been calling for the bench to be installed in a nod to the late Irishman.

The bench now stands proudly in Croft Road Recreation Ground, in Croft Road.

2nd October

Councillor's resignation call rejected


Following an investigation, Ben Lloyd-Shogbesan was found not to be acting as a councillor when he shared posts which claimed cancer was a ‘business’ and compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

He resigned the Labour Party whip after the posts came to light in May and he remains an independent councillor.

His former group leader Susan Brown said it was time for councillors to find it within themselves to forgive him because he had apologised and ‘had promised to learn from [his] mistakes’.

She was responding to a motion from independent councillor Mick Haines, who urged Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan to resign following the investigation. Mr Haines’ wife died from cancer last year.

Ms Brown said she ‘shared the dismay’ felt by Mr Haines when the posts were uncovered.

But an investigation found the council’s code of conduct had not been breached.

Mr Haines’ motion was backed by Lib Dem councillor Paul Harris, who said the comments on cancer were an ‘intolerable insult’ to Oxford scientists working to cure the disease.

Mr Harris said he had received life-saving surgery for cancer.

Mr Haines’ motion was lost, with seven councillors supporting it. Another 25 were opposed and five councillors abstained.


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