When I read in the Thornton Heath Chronicle that JD Wetherspoon was planning to close The Flora Sandes pub, I felt both angry and aggrieved, writes Jack Arthey.

A plan which threatens my local feels personal but this proposal affects not just me but the community of which I am a part.

Over the last 20 years Wetherspoon’s has provided a meeting place which is regularly full of people from all walks of life, cultures, ethnic groups and ages who can enjoy excellent food and drink at affordable prices.  The idea of this being taken away prompted three of us to act and start a petition.

“When we started talking to people we discovered we were not alone.  ‘Where else can we go to meet up with our friends?’ we were asked.  ‘Nobody ever hassles us to move on or move out,’ another commented. ‘There is no music or TV blaring out in here,’ said a young man working on his laptop; while a pensioner said: ‘Coming in here with my friends for a meal and drink is the highlight of our month.’

“Listening to this we realised that, if our pub closes there will be no-where else in Thornton Heath where pensioners, young families, single women, disabled people, shoppers, shop workers, football supporters and passengers from the railway station can sit, talk, drink and feel at home.

It now occurs to us that Croydon’s vision of having a welcoming, friendly, harmonious and highly diverse community where people get on together is brought to life in The Flora Sandes.

“Rather than leave, we see Wetherspoon’s as vitally important to the future of Thornton Heath and its regeneration.  That is why we are asking Wetherspoon’s to keep The Flora Sandes open and why we are asking you as readers of The Thornton Heath Chronicle to support our petition to save a key community resource.  If our pub closes a big part of our community will die with it.”

*Jack and Sally Arthey along with their friend Don Failes have set up a petition to save The Flora Sandes and have so far got over 700 written signatures. They have also set up an online petition:

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-wetherspoon-s-at-thornton-heath