AS pubs with outdoor areas prepare to reopen next week, residents in one North-East village are so keen to see their local back in action, they’re prepared to stump up the cash to buy it.

Villagers in Long Newton, between Darlington and Stockton, are banding together in a bid to buy The Vane Arms, making it the first community-owned pub on Teesside.

And, in little more than two weeks, they’ve already pledged nearly a quarter of a million pounds to the cause.

“The response has been incredible,” said Nigel Dennison, one of the founder members of the steering group behind the campaign. “The financial commitments people have been prepared to make has exceeded all our expectations.”

The villagers say they are more confident than ever that their dream can become a reality after Stockton Council’s planning committee rejected plans to develop the site of the boarded-up pub for housing.

Full story: Peter Barron’s column.