RESIDENTS are being asked for their opinions on the future of a much-loved South Lakeland pub with a district councillor leading the charge to save it.

The Farmers Arms at Spark Bridge, near Ulverston, has been vacant for more than a year and is now on the market.

After members of the community met to discuss the uncertain situation of the pub in March, an application was successfully made to have it designated an ‘Asset of Community Value’.

Cllr Ian Wharton, who represents the Broughton and Coniston ward at South Lakeland District Council, said this status meant the pub was recognised as being an important part of the ‘character of the community’ and provided the community with first option to buy it.

And now a survey has been sent out to residents of the local area, asking them for their thoughts on the future of the pub.

Cllr Wharton said he and Cllr Janet Willis were also looking at obtaining community and grant funding for a possible purchase of the pub which might help secure a more certain future for it.

“It’s a bit vague at the moment because we haven’t got anything in place but we are working on it,” said Cllr Wharton.

Such a purchase could potentially be accompanied by a partial change of usage - to, for example, an arts venue - but Cllr Wharton stressed that it would retain its pub status in some form.

“We would definitely be using it - certainly part of it - as the ‘old pub’,” he said.

“Because there’s the historic stable bar there and it would be criminal to let that go.

“It’s a big project and one of the things I want to do is try and get a working group established where we can put all of this together.”

He said he believed somebody had put a bid in for the pub but he was not aware of who this was.

Ultimately, his goal is to secure a future for the pub and to stop it falling into disrepair.

“It’s been a centre of local meets for centuries,” said Cllr Wharton.

“(There is) the historic interest, and it’s a beautiful-looking building as well.

“A lot of the people that live locally said ‘I spent my formative years there’.”

In a post on its Facebook page, a spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Furness said: “It’s important that this unique venue truly reflects local opinion and The Farmers Arms will resume its pivotal and historic role at the heart of the local community, which has been asked to complete a survey by Friday, July 17 so that the parish council can understand what is wanted.”