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Bid to save gay pub is defeated.

Byline: Daniel Fisher

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Wales' oldest gay pub have had their hopes dashed by the bar's owners.

The 137-year-old Kings Cross in Cardiff city centre is being transformed into a gastropub over the summer byownersMitchellsandButlers, it was confirmed today. Layton "Percy" Jones, who organised a campaign to save the venue, said itwas "very emotional" to hear the pub would lose its identity.

Hehasvowedtofightonto change the owners' mind.

He said: "The owners told us they intend to turn the place into a gastropub. This place holds a lot of memories for a lot of people. It's awful."

In October a petition signed by more than 2,000 people demanding the Caroline Street venue keep its gay identity was presented to the company's directors.

Wales' rugby legend Gareth Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, and Cardiff council's gay leader Rodney Berman are two of the most high-profile supporters.

Pub-goer Steven Van Der Lammie, from Thornhill, Cardiff, said: "Like much of the gay community in Cardiff,Kings Crosswas the first gay venue I went to after 'coming out' and has many great memories for me and my friends. It's a vital part of the gay community not only in Cardiff but in Wales as a whole, with great historical importance for gay rights. "It's one big family where everyone is welcome, regardless of age, race or sexual orientation." Mitchells and Butlers spokesman Andrew Roache said the pubwould be given a pounds 1mrefurbishment in July - subject to planning consent - but will not be turned into a "brand" bar, as some had suggested.

He said: "It is our intention to carry out a significant yet sympathetic refurbishment of the building, shifting its focus from a late-night drinking venue to a pub restaurant catering for customers throughout the daytime and evening.

"As the owners of the Kings Cross for many years we recognise the pub's importance to its existing loyal customer base.

"We are aware that many people have fond memories of the Kings Cross, but it is clear the business is no longer sustainable as a late-night drinking venue."

'UNIQUE VENUE WITH HISTORY' COUNCIL leader Rodney Berman said: "I am that this establishment would continue to suggestions and the voices of all those who deeply disappointed to hear of the decision to go ahead with the refurbishment of the King's Cross. This is a unique venue with a long history in the city centre. have vociferously opposed the loss of this pub have appeared to fall on deaf ears.

operate as a gay venue. I also suggested that if the company decided they no longer wished to run the venue in its current guise because of a shift in focus to operating food-led businesses, then perhaps they should consider selling the business to someone who would recognise its value.

"I wrote to Mitchells and Butlers to urge them to reflect on the strength of feeling in the LGBT community against the review and asking them to reassure customers "It concerns me greatly that the council has invested in regenerating this area of the city but this decision sends out a message, even inadvertently, that a pub aimed at the gay community appears not to be welcome there."

"Unfortunately, my

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The Kings Cross is being converted into a gastropub by its owners Mitchells and Butlers, despite strong support for it to remain a gay pub
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 23, 2011
Words:566
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