Hopes are high for Otley pub’s re-opening

Wharfedale Observer: The Black Horse public house and hotel in Otley The Black Horse public house and hotel in Otley

Campaigners have hailed an announcement that Otley's Black Horse Hotel could be re-opened in time for the Tour de France.

Otley Pub Club recently wrote to the head of owners Enterprise Inns to stress the need for the business to be trading again for the once-in-a-lifetime race.

The hotel holds a prominent position in the town centre and, standing on Westgate's corner with Kirkgate, looks out directly onto the route the Tour riders will be taking.

But the currently shut Black Horse has been closed several times in recent years, prompting some – including MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) to fear that the empty building could “blight” the cycling celebrations on Saturday, July 5.

Enterprise Inns' chief executive officer Simon Townsend, however, has now confirmed that the company is committed to getting the place trading again in time for both Le Tour and the preceding Otley Cycle Races.

In a letter to Otley Pub Club, he said: “The local management team are actively recruiting for the Black Horse and are already in discussions with a number of interested applicants.

“Enterprise shares the same desire for the Black Horse to be open and fully trading in time for the Otley Cycle Races and the Tour de France, as the site is indeed extremely well located for both events.

“Furthermore, we realise the importance of the Black Horse to Otley and are seeking a committed individual who will establish this public house as the heart of the community.”

The pub club's chairman, Andy FitzGerald, said: “We welcome the undertaking from Enterprise Inns to strive to have the Black Horse open for both the cycle races and the Tour de France.

“We agree that the Black Horse is ideally sited and should be opened again as soon as possible.

“It is pleasing to note that Enterprise Inns acknowledge the importance of the Black Horse to Otley. I hope they can either re-open it as soon as possible or sell it to a company that can open it and run it successfully.”

Mr Mulholland added: “It is good that Enterprise Inns have now publicly pledged to have the Black Horse Hotel, which is on the Tour de France route, open for this historic event.

“Congratulations to Otley Pub Club for securing this clear commitment. Enterprise must now ensure this happens.

“As Otley's only town centre hotel and a landmark building, the Black Horse must be open and I am sure will be fully booked.

“The Tour de France is a once- in-a-lifetime event for Otley, Pool-in-Wharfedale, Arthington and all the places along the route and the many visitors and cycling fans will receive a warm Yorkshire welcome to this part of Wharfedale.”

This year's Otley Cycle Races take place on Wednesday, July 2 - just three days before the Tour de France passes through town.

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