BATTLE lines have been drawn in the fight to stop last orders being served at a popular Halesowen pub.

Staff and regulars at The Maypole Inn, Bassnage Road, are dismayed the pub has been sold to a company specialising in converting pubs into supermarkets.

And after a building regulation application submitted fears are rising the pub's days are numbered.

Landlady Michelle Vaughn, who has been in charge for a year, said: "We are totally in the dark.

"We know Marston's have sold the pub to a company in London called New River and have know idea what they want to do."

New River Retail is a retail estate investment company with an expertise in converting pubs into shops.

She added: "We would be gutted if the pub closed after all the hard work we have put in during the last year.

"This place is a real community pub, unlike so many chain pubs these days, and we know our regulars will not give up without a fight."

Regulars at the pub are determined to challenge any bid to change the use of the premises to a supermarket.

Retired firefighter Michael Seeley, aged 66, said: "This pub has been here for generations and is an important part of this community so it would be awful if it closed.

"The last thing we need around here is another supermarket, there are already too many shops and the traffic and disruption would be bad for residents."

He added: "They tried to turn The Swan on Long Lane into a supermarket and failed because of a community campaign so we will have to do the same with The Maypole."

A spokesman for New River Retail Ltd said: “The Maypole Inn is part of a portfolio of 202 public houses which New River only recently acquired from Marston's.

"The properties in question have been leased back to Marston’s and are being managed and operated by Marston’s as public houses.

"This arrangement is in place for at least the next four years and in this respect, it is ‘business as usual’."

He added: "A review of all the properties is currently underway and there are no specific plans for any pub at this stage.

"It is New River's current expectation that a large proportion of the pubs will continue to trade as they were purchased on that basis. As and when the position becomes clearer, we will be consulting with individual tenants."