RESIDENTS want city leaders to safeguard the future of a York pub, amid fears it could be forced to close.

Rawcliffe Parish Council is calling for The Mitre in Shipton Road to be designated as an official "asset of community value," which would prevent owners Enterprise Inns selling the pub without first giving the local community six months to try to buy it.

But Enterprise has opposed the move, saying the pub is struggling and that there are others nearby. The matter will now be decided by City of York Council next Thursday.

The parish council says The Mitre, which is owned by Enterprise Inns, is the only pub in the parish area to offer "community facilities" and says it is a meeting place for sports teams and community groups, and offers activities for a range of age groups.

In a letter to the city council, parish council clerk Nicola Moorcroft wrote: "The Mitre boosts the social wellbeing of the community, and as such, is valued as an asset to this particular area of the city."

But Emma Hurst, asset manager for Enterprise Inns, has opposed the local attempt to protect the pub.

In a letter to the council, she said the pub trade had been hit hard by the 2007 smoking ban, Britain's high tax on beer, rising utility costs and business rates, and the economic crisis of the past few years.

She said: "The Mitre has not escaped this economic decline. Since 2007, beer sales at The Mitre have reduced by 52 per cent."

>> Read the parish council's application

>> Read the objection by Enterprise Inns

Ms Hurst said the long-standing publican at The Mitre had recently left and said there were three other pubs nearby: The Lysander Arms, The Dormouse and Riverside Farm.

She said those could all serve the community functions of The Mitre, including acting as a local focal point and base for sports teams and groups, such as the over-50s "Young at Heart luncheon club", which meets in the pub twice a month.

She wrote: "It is apparent that the local community already benefits from an ample number of alternative community facilities in close proximity to The Mitre. We therefore believe that the addition of The Mitre to the register is inappropriate."

The introduction of "assets of community value" was part of the 2011 Localism Act, aimed at enabling communities to protect valuable amenities. The pub application will be considered by the city council's finance boss Coun Dafydd Williams next Thursday.

At the same meeting, Coun Williams will also be asked to rule on a similar application by Holgate residents for The Fox Inn, although since that application was written, the pub has reopened following a £300,000 refurbishment by Punch Taverns and Ossett Brewery.