MORRISONS has been emphatically told it is not welcome in Downley as residents rally to save The Downley Donkey pub.
Residents defiantly raised their hands to inform the supermarket giants that a new store is not wanted or needed in the village during a packed emergency meeting of Downley Parish Council last night.
The pub in Plomer Green Lane could be closed as early as Sunday.
The parish council is leading an 11th hour campaign to have The Donkey and other key buildings in the village registered as a Community Asset in a bid to prevent them from being lost to “predatory entities”.
DPC chairman Cllr Barry Gay, who knew nothing of the plans until last Friday, has also arranged a meeting with Morrisons’ bosses to put across the feelings of villagers, who fear it would “rip the soul out of Downley”.
One resident told the meeting: “We don’t need another supermarket in the village, we already have Tesco and the big Morrisons is only a mile away, it would destroy the other shops.
“Is Downley just going to become a smaller version of High Wycombe town centre, riddled with supermarkets and charity shops?
“How hard do the families that run the small businesses need to work? There seems to be no interest in community from the powers that be.”
Another villager urged residents to boycott Morrisons and shop at the independent Starlight Stores and Downley News.
Residents also fear the impact additional traffic movements would have on Plomer Green Lane, calling it a “death trap waiting to happen”.
Cllr Gay said the parish would do all it can to save the pub - but if the deal cannot be stopped it would work hard to influence Morrisons’ plans.
Morrisons told the BFP it was in the “early stages of planning” for the M Local store and it would soon share its proposals with the community.
Wycombe District Council confirmed Morrisons does not require its approval to change the use of the building from a pub into a shop, unless the retailer proposes to alter or extend the existing building.
It added: “As we have no control over the change of use we cannot consider any impact in terms of traffic generation, highways or access and vehicles exiting from the site.”
In a statement, Enterprise Inns, which owns the pub, said: “Enterprise has continued to invest in The Downley Donkey in recent years.
“But despite advertising the permanent lease during that time we have not received any viable long-term offers from prospective publicans.”
Resident and Donkey regular Paul Brookes said: “It’s a massive blow to Downley. It’s another nail in the coffin for local traders in the area.
“It’s also another place gone for the community to go to socialise. The feeling is strong in Downley; it would be a massive loss to the village.”