REGULARS at a York pub have launched a petition calling for it to be saved amid fears it faces closure, writes Debbie Millar.

The campaign was launched after customers heard that the Punch Bowl, which has been on Lowther Street in The Groves for at least 156 years, could be sold by owner Enterprise Inns to Tesco.

A public meeting is also being held at the pub at 3pm tomorrow about the campaign, to which everyone is being invited.

Customer Paul Giller, 65, who said he organised the petition after hearing about the threat of closure from pub staff, said he was registered blind and found the pub a safe haven, as well as an asset to the community.

He said: “The other problem, with it being a supermarket, is the position.

“If you get people parking in Lowther Street, which they would have to do, then nobody’s going to get by. There is nowhere to park.

“More importantly, it’s a community place.

“It’s just not good for the community or the environment.”

He also claimed having a supermarket on the pub site would worsen the problem of people drinking on the streets in the area.

“Tesco sells cheap drink and we’ve got a problem in this area with drinking on the street as it is, and it would just increase it.”

The petition has been attracting hundreds of signatures in the pub and from nearby businesses.

Mr Giller said: “First of all, we’re challenging Enterprise Inns because it’s a local place.

“It’s a community pub with a friendly atmosphere.

He said: “Hopefully it will reconsider, but if need be, we’ll take it as far as we have to go.”

The owner of the nearby Diamond Mini Market, Eulent Ciceq, said he was also against any moves to close the pub.

He said: “It’s going to affect not just business but all of the area: the residents, the traffic and all the small businesses.

“Sometimes I go to pick up my daughter from school and it takes ten minutes. With extra traffic, it will be worse.” In the past decade, the Groves area has lost The Magpie, The Reindeer and The Groves Working Men’s Club. The Castle Howard Ox is the only remaining pub in the vicinity.

Enterprise Inns, Tesco and the pub’s landlady all declined to comment to The Press.

The campaign comes just days after a national organisation called for a change in legislation to stop the practice of pubs being converted into other businesses.

Earlier this month, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) urged the Government to do more to protect pubs after research showed 31 pubs closed across the UK every week.