Queen’s Head surrounded by murk and mystery

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A public meeting will today discuss buying and bringing back into use Selkirk’s Queen’s Head pub, but questions still surround who owns it.

John Hawkins, who helped found a community group to save Melrose Youth Hostel last year, hopes to find support for the venture, and establish a ‘Selkirk Queen’s Head Trust’ to realise locals’ ideas and apply for public funding.

Selkirk’s boarded-up pub was listed on the National Buildings At Risk Register in 2009, two years after it closed. Punch Taverns sold the West Port property in June 2011, but two auctions in September and October 2012 failed to find a buyer – the first because “it was repossessed by the bank” from a “private individual”, a spokesman for Shapes Property Auctions revealed. The council’s principal officer for heritage and design, Mark Douglas, said: “We’re keen to see it brought back into use, for whatever purpose.

“We’d be happy to work with the owners to deliver this as soon as possible, but if we’re going to give out public money, we need to be quite sure who the owner is, and that they’d given their consent.” So, who do Souters buy it from?

Ahead of tonight’s meeting at 7pm in Rowland’s Dry Bar, John Poletti called The Southern this week looking to contact the people who want to buy the pub. So, we asked, does he own The Queen’s Head?

“It’s no mystery to me,” he said: “a company that I’m involved in owns it.”

Asked directly “So, you own the property?”, he replied: “I didn’t say that.”

But when asked the reverse, “so, you don’t own the property?”, he replied: “I didn’t say I denied I’m the owner.”

He clarified: “I don’t personally own it, the company owns it.”

But he refused to name the company to us, denying the pub was repossessed by the bank in its 20-month ownership.

But Mr Poletti did offer to act as a go-between.

“If somebody’s got the money, I’ll tell them where to go, and who to speak to.” Later, he also offered to help fix the price: “Let them phone me, and we can negotiate. There’s no reason why a deal can’t be struck. I’d be interested in advising the company to sell it. It sounds like a great idea.”