REGULARS of a popular pub have launched a campaign to save it from closure.

The Stag’s Head, in St Helens Road, Daubhill, is being sold and an application has been made to convert the building to offices.

But regulars are frantically trying to keep it open, arguing it is one of only two pubs left in the area.

A protest group they have set up on the social networking website Facebook, called “Help save our local Stag’s Head, St Helens Road”, has more than 350 members, and they have started a petition in the pub.

Tina Clark, one of the campaign organisers said: “We don’t want the pub to go. It is a main meeting place for people in the area.

“We don’t want it changed into offices. There is very little left at that end of St Helens Road. It is important for the community that it stays as a pub.”

Landlady Jackie Heyes runs the pub with partner Ian Matthews. The couple, from Daubhill, took over the pub this year after it closed for six months, and they signed a five-year lease.

But they have now been given 28 days’ notice to vacate the premises.

Ms Heyes said she was “heartbroken” when she discovered there were plans to convert the pub into offices.

She said: “The first I knew about it was when a ‘For Sale’ sign appeared. We looked into buying it and managed to raise £200,000 and some more for a deposit, but we couldn’t reach the £295,000 asking price. They got a better offer.

“Even if we can’t have it, it should remain a pub. We have one man who comes in every day and he is 85.”

The proposed closure of the pub is set against a backdrop of turmoil in the industry. Pubs are closing at a record rate, with the loss of 24,000 jobs in the past year as the industry is hammered by the recession, figures out yesterday revealed.

Research for the British Beer & Pub Association showed local pubs were the most vulnerable, closing at a rate of 40 a week in the first six months of the year, while nine high-street bars were shut per week.

Branded pubs and cafe style bars were shown to be opening at a rate of two a week.

A spokesman for Punch Taverns, which owns the Stag’s Head, said: “It is always our preference that our pubs continue to trade as pubs. However, we do review our estate regularly to ensure our sites are maximising their potential.

“The pub is currently open for trade but a decision was taken to sell the Stag’s Head.

“We are in advanced staged negotiations with a potential buyer and are therefore unable to comment on this aspect.”