Landlord is forced out by price hikes

A VILLAGE landlord says he is being forced to shut his pub for good, describing his situation as “untenable”.

Tom Connor will finally call time on Saturday, four years to the day that he took over The Gate Inn at Tansley.

The pub is owned by Enterprise Inns, but Tom says they are making it impossible for he and wife Hilary to stay.

Despite the tough economic climate, his rent has increased each year and as part of the contract, they must buy the beer from Enterprise, which he says charge over the odds.

Tom admits to clashing with the company over several issues, including rent and promises of reduced beer tariffs that he says never materialised.

The 50-year-old said: “We are sad to leave, given the chance we would be staying, but it has just become untenable. They charge too much for drinks – twice the price in some cases. We have been fighting it for a while.”

The couple moved up from London four years ago to take over the village watering hole, and had hoped to remain at the helm for years to come.

The pub, which is one of three in Tansley, has a pool and darts team and even a sewing club which meets weekly.

The couple have put ideas into practice to help keep the business afloat, including pizza deliveries, fish and chip nights and live bands.

Generating a thriving community spirit, the couple have even helped raise over £5,000 for charity since arriving.

But Tom fears village pubs under such pub companies could die out unless the situation improves.

“They do not care about village pubs I don’t think,” he added.

“All they want is profitable city bars and out-of-town eateries for families. “All they are looking at is the bottom of the balance sheet.

“I understand they have to make money for their shareholders, but if it’s to the detriment to community life, then it’s wrong.

“If I was to get another pub, it would have to be on my own terms, and I would go for a free house.

“Only free houses are making anything now, the rest of us are struggling.

“I would advise anyone wanting to go into the pub business to think long and hard about it.”

Enterprise Inns refused to comment on the issue when approached by the Mercury, but did say we had not been given “true and fair reflection of the circumstances”.

Meanwhile, Tom and Hilary have thanked customers for their support and are inviting people along for their last night on Saturday.