People power packs a punch in the battle to save Milton Keynes pub

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A community’s battle to save their local pub has taken a twist after a councillor was accused of having a “prejudicial” interest.

Heeland’s Suffolk Punch pub is under threat of demolition under a Parks Trust plan to use the site for new houses.

The once-thriving pub has been closed for two years and is now boarded up and neglected.

Five months ago Councillor Liz Gifford made a lone ruling under Delegated Powers that the building be de-listed as a community asset.

But Mrs Gifford was former chairman of the Parks Trust and also a trustee for 19 years.

At last week’s full council meeting Heelands residents challenged her de-listing decision on the grounds that she once had an interest.

They also refuted the claim that the pub was inviable, producing evidence that a brewery has now expressed an interest in running it.

It was agreed that Mrs Gifford’s decision be called in and re-examined.

Councillor Robin Bradburn (pictured) is helping the campaign to save the pub.

He said: “This is another victory for the residents in this saga that has been going on for too long. Liz Gifford is no longer involved with the Parks Trust but she should have declared an interest for the sake of transparency.”

The Parks Trust says the Suffolk Punch “did not work” as a pub.

Head of trust property Ben Allott told the Citizen earlier this year: “We tried everything, including giving a heavily subsidised rent for a brewery to run it. But it was simply not viable.”

However local brewery Bucks Star believes it could make it work.

A spokesman said: “A residential development won’t offer residents and people generally the quality of life and happiness which we all seek.”