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THE Co-op is in talks about a new shop at a Swansea council-owned pub, which closed at short notice.

An email from a council officer seen by the Local Democracy Service indicates that the food retailer would sign a sub-lease for The Linden Tree in West Cross in days, and then open in the summer.

But a representative from The Co-op told a public meeting that it was not a done deal.

Campaigners in West Cross want a pub to remain there, as they say the original lease for the building stipulates.

They have formed a group called West Cross Community Services Association, and quizzed John Hillman, of The Co-op, at a meeting on April 12.

Mr Hillman said The Co-op was interested.

“It is just about big enough for what we need, although the car park is larger than we would normally have,” he said.

Mr Hillman said The Co-op would be likely to sign a 15-year sub-lease with the company which leases the building from the council, should matters progress.

But he did not agree with the contents of the council officer email, and added that other retailers had been approached by the leaseholder.

“As things stand, we don’t have a position on that site,” he said.

“We have not spoken to the local authority ‑ I have only spoken to the leaseholder.”

Campaign group chairwoman Laura Allan said 99% of people on the large estate surrounding the pub wanted it reopened, and wondered if the site could accommodate a shop and a pub.

She asked Mr Hillman: “Can you explore the idea of a community pub?”

Retired barrister Roger Warren Evans, who attended the meeting, said Swansea Council’s predecessor signed a 99-year lease with the brewery which built The Linden Tree in 1964.

He said the lease for the “victualling” pub recognised a public duty to the residents of the newly-built estate, and had a “keep open covenant”.

“The lease does refer specifically to the public,” he said.

But he added that, in his view, the only body which could rule on this would be the High Court.

One man at the meeting said Welsh brewer Brains should be contacted to see if it was interested in the pub, while another man said he knew of a local businessman who was interested in taking it over.

Mumbles community councillor Rebecca Scott said the strong feeling at the meeting was not “anti-Co-op”, and asked Mr Hillman if he would keep residents abreast of developments.

A Swansea Council spokesman said: “It is always sad when private businesses close and The Linden Tree has been run by two different pub operators in recent years without success.

“The council has agreed to vary the lease in the best interest of council tax payers while at the same time avoiding the potential of the site being left empty, possibly for years to come.”

Photo: Greg Wilkinson, of West Cross Community Services Association, outside The Linden Tree pub (pic by Richard Youle)

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