The new chair of the Puzzle Hall Community Pub says his priority is to re-open the venue as soon as possible.
Paul Mansley, from Pye Nest, says the group in charge of the Sowerby Bridge pub have plenty of plans for its future, and are keen to be back in business before Christmas.
The Friends of the Puzzle Hall Inn was set up as a Facebook page in April 2017 to judge the level of interest in purchasing the Puzzle as a community owned pub, with Paul coming on board in February this year as Community Involvement Director.
A crowdfunding campaign raised £270,000 to save and restore the pub, while the owners have also secured £100,000 through a community grant and a loan.
Paul has recently retired from his role in neighbourhood development schemes at Calderdale Council, and has been going to Puzzle Hall on and off for 30 years.
“My priority is to get the pub open and get work moving on the development.
“We’ve been bogged down a bit by the minutiae of it all but we need to put that to one side now and press on.
“We want the process to become a lot more transparent and improve our communications.
“When we were negotiating we had to play our cards close to our chest, which understandably frustrated our shareholders.”
Paul says the group would ideally like to re-open the pub by Christmas.
“It needs to be sooner rather than later as it’s only losing money while it’s shut,” he said.
“The pub is currently without most of its roof, which has been pinched. The wiring and plumbing was also stripped out by thieves.
“The plasterwork and ceilings got damaged over the winter. But our volunteers have saved us tens of thousands of pounds by working on the pub. We’ve got a blank canvas to ask what were the great things about the pub that we want to retain, and how can we improve it?”
Paul says community groups will have access to the building, and wants to re-establish it as a thriving music venue. A public meeting takes place at the Hollins Mill Inn next Wednesday at 8pm, but plans for the pub will be available to view from 6pm.