A PUB which was on the verge of closure is close to being saved, it can be revealed.

The Wheel Inn in Pennington was due to close earlier this month but now the pub is set to be taken over by a community group.

The newly-formed Wheel Inn (Pennington) Community Group say they are close to striking a deal with Terramek Ltd to take over the lease after positive talks.

The current landlord Pete Walters will stay at the pub until the end of August, and it is hoped he will stay at the premises after that.

Villagers discussed the future of the pub at a public meeting at the WI Hall in Ramley Road.

Chairman of the Wheel Inn Community Group Pete Simpson told how the pub could be at the forefront of the community.

Mr Simpson told villagers how they have gone to the Plunkett Foundation, a charity which helps people in rural communities.

He said the committee has been accepted into a “funding package” to help their bid to save the pub.

He hopes the pub will have a management committee, a head chef and a strong team behind the bar that “know what they are doing”.

However one stumbling block is that the group needs one premises licence holder - and the only person they have at the moment is Mr Walters.

He told villagers that the pub could focus on sourcing local produce for food, real ales and make use of breweries in the New Forest and he also spoke of the importance of fundraising.

“We will need fundraising, we could do race nights and people could open their gardens up and it could help fund things like a pool table or a darts board - every little helps.”

Speaking to the Daily Echo after the meeting, Mr Simpson said: “What we are aiming to do is to keep the pub open and bring it up to a standard where it is attractive and used by the members of the community and make it into a community pub.

“We want to reach out to the community and offer them something which is not there at the moment.

“The support is absolutely amazing. We did a survey of properties and we had amazing feedback and the questionnaires and emails that have come in say they do not use the pub and they say with our plans they would use the pub and some would even invest in shares.

“A majority of people have also offered their services voluntarily to help.”