Locals have stepped up their fight to "save" an Aldershot pub after it was announced it is up for sale.
Concerned it could be sold off for housing, Royal Staff regulars have launched their "Save Our Staff" campaign and petition, calling on Fuller’s to ensure it remains operating as a pub.
The Mount Pleasant Road watering hole has been listed on a commercial property website – as has the La Fontaine pub, just a few yards up the road.
Save Our Staff campaigners are "dismayed" that Fuller’s has "backtracked" on previous promises to the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) it was committed to the pub.
“We have seen our local transformed in recent years,” campaigners said. “The Royal Staff is a vibrant, friendly, warm and safe establishment valued by people from across the local community.
"In short, this little part of Aldershot is a genuine social asset."
They continued: “We are not prepared to stand by and watch Fuller’s destroy this hard work and 150 years of Aldershot’s history for no good reason, as we believe the pub to be viable.
"As such we wish to announce that we have established a campaign group called ‘Save our Staff’ which is aiming to persuade Fuller’s to change its mind.”
Although there’s no suggestion that the pub will close if sold, a worried North Town resident previously told Get Hampshire she was concerned that The Royal Staff would face the same fate as the former Beehive pub, in the High Street, which has been converted into bedsits without planning permission.
Save Our Staff campaigners added: “If Fuller’s won’t change its mind then we request that it sells up as a going concern and not for yet another shoddy pub conversion to poor quality housing.
"We have endured too many examples of this as a town, damaging both the perception and appearance of Aldershot.
“Further, if this gem of a pub is sold as something other than a going concern, this act of social sabotage would show Fuller’s to be nothing more than anti-community.”
150 years of history
CAMRA, Aldershot Civic Society and Aldershot History Society have banded together and submitted an Asset of Community Value application to Rushmoor Borough Council.
If successful, campaigners could block the sale of the pub for up to six months to make a bid and raise funds to buy the "asset".
A spokesman for the Surrey Hampshire Borders branch of CAMRA said: “The Royal Staff has been serving the people of Aldershot and providing employment for around 150 years.
"We will do all we can to ensure that The Royal Staff can continue to serve the local community for another 150 years.”
The Save Our Staff campaign now has its own Facebook page, on which Councillor David Bell, who sits on the planning committee, said: “Rushmoor now has a policy to save public houses.
"This now makes it very difficult to simply close a public house for development. If a pub is operating as a profitable concern and has public support then it’s future should be secure.”
Commenting on the sale of The Royal Staff, a spokesperson for Fuller, Smith & Turner, said: “Fuller’s has nearly 200 tenanted pubs and over the coming months, we will be looking to help our tenants to open, develop and promote pubs that deliver the distinctive experience, including freshly cooked food, customers expect when the see the Fuller’s name.
"As part of that plan, there are a number of sites, including The Royal Staff, Aldershot, that have been earmarked for sale.”
The petition can be signed in the pub. The campaign Facebook page is @saveourstaff.