HUNDREDS of people have signed an online petition against changes to a historic York pub.

The Blue Bell in Fossgate has been run by landlord John Pybus for the last three years, but owners Punch Taverns are in the process of changing the way the Grade II listed pub is run, bringing in a manager rather than a landlord.

This weekend, a petition was set up at addressed to CEO of Punch Taverns, Clive Chesser, urging him to reconsider the move.

It said: “We call on Punch to negotiate a new agreement with John, with terms which will allow him to continue his excellent work at this much loved and iconic pub on sustainable terms.” The petition said “the regular customers who are the source of the majority of The Blue Bell’s revenue” had “made it very clear that they will not support the pub under the proposed retail agreement”.

Mr Pybus said the petition had been set up by local members of CAMRA, and aimed to show Punch that the people of York will not stand for multinational corporations "ruining their amazing city”.

He said: “York is home to some of the best heritage pubs in the country and the Blue Bell has been serving the local community in the same format since 1798. From the early sense of the petition, it’s clear there’s a fierce local opposition to changing this tried and tested model.”

A spokeswoman for Punch previously told The Press: “We recognise the importance of the character and ambience of The Blue Bell and any investment will be sympathetic to retaining these qualities.

"We have decided not to renew the tenancy agreement with the existing publican and our intention is for the site to operate under our retail contract moving forwards.”

By Monday afternoon, more than 1,000 people had signed the petition.