LEGAL notice has been served on the owners of a former Herefordshire pub, days after a petition was handed to Herefordshire Council demanding it be reopened.

A number of Lower Eggleton residents say the community is suffering following the closure of the Newtown Inn, which is just off the Newtown Crossroads on the A4103 Hereford to Worcester road, almost four years ago.

The petition was handed to the council's deputy leader, Cllr Patricia Morgan, by Ian Carr from Yarkhill Parish Council last week.

The parish council wants the authority to restore the building to its former glory in light of current owner, Charles Willmott, twice being refused permission to change the building from a drinking establishment to a residential house.

The Herefordshire branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ales) also backed the action with Mark Haslam, from the branch, calling the situation "entirely unsatisfactory".

But this week, Herefordshire Council has confirmed it has served legal notice on Mr Willmott and his wife for "failing to comply with planning enforcement notices dating back to May 2014".

When operating as a pub it was run by a pub company but that company went into administration.

The first planning application was in 2012 when a council refusal notice stated: "The evidence within the marketing report is inconclusive and fails to demonstrate that the site has been marketed on reasonable terms in accordance with an appropriate marketing strategy for a suitable period of time. Subsequently, the viability of the premises for use as a public house can not be gauged.

"The interest generated by the application demonstrates the local need for the facility to remain."

An appeal was also dismissed with Planning Inspector, Veronica Bond, saying there were "indications that the appeal property was profitable in the recent past".

Mr Willmott has told the Hereford Times in the past week it would be inappropriate for him to comment while "considerable dialogue" with Herefordshire Council is ongoing.

A spokesman for the council said: "Herefordshire Council has served legal notice to a local couple for failing to comply with planning enforcement notices dating back to May 2014.

"As this is now an ongoing legal matter, the council is unable to comment further in order to avoid prejudicing the case."