IT’S one of the world’s most powerful and famous brands - but it’s been defeated by campaigners fighting to save a city pub.
Spirits were high last night as staff and regulars battling to keep The Bittern pub open celebrated victory over fast-food giant McDonald's.
The Thornhill Park Road-based pub had been in limbo for months after McDonald’s launched a bid to demolish the building and turn it into a restaurant.
But following an agonising wait, the news came through that drinkers had been waiting for after a Government-appointed planning inspector backed the pub and threw out plans for the restaurant.
Southampton City Councillor Mary Lloyd, who spoke in favour of the pub at an inquiry at the Civic Centre, was delighted by the decision.
She told the Daily Echo: “It’s wonderful news.
There was massive support and a huge number of people who like the pub came along to the inquiry.
“I would think you don’t get that kind of support at that many appeals - it’s great news.”
Inspector Lloyd Rodgers heard four days of evidence from Southampton City Council, which backed the pub, as well as representatives from McDonald’s.
The opening day of the inquiry attracted so many supporters of the pub that Mr Rodgers was forced to throw open the doors and let people stand outside to make sure they could take in proceedings.
He said: “Many pubs in my constituency have gone but this is the only one that has attracted such a large support, such as has been demonstrated this morning.”
Last night his successor Royston Smith welcomed the news, saying: “Local residents and pub regulars did a fantastic job making the case for their pub.
“Further, this decision demonstrates how the planning system works and how the independent inspector will quite often uphold the decision of the local authority.
“Perhaps with some certainly the pub’s owners will invest in the property so that the landlord can continue to provide this clearly much loved local pub.”
Despite being in limbo and unable to plan for the future while the decision was made, staff at the pub held a number of charity events to raise money for numerous charities.
Mr Rodgers raised concerns about the ongoing viability of the pub but highlighted the strong support from residents.
He wrote: “I was left in no doubt by the enthusiastic and sustained support of those attending the inquiry that the pub is highly valued by its clientele.
“However, I also heard how it is valued by others in the community who, although not regular users, recognise the contribution of the pub to the social wellbeing of the area.
“Indeed, I heard that the contribution of the pub to the wellbeing of the community extends far beyond its use as a drinking establishment.”
Landlord Glen McInnes said last night: “I’m pleased and I’m sure the regulars will be happy because we get asked about it every day.”
McDonald’s had not responded to a request for comment at the time the Daily Echo went to press.