Preston has banned it’s own Pub of the Year from lighting traditional log fires over Christmas.
The city’s historic Black Horse has been ordered to stop burning wood in its Victorian grates because it sits in the middle of a smokeless zone.
“I’m told one person complained and they weren’t even in the pub - they were just walking past in the street,” said blazing landlord Graham Rowson.
“The log fires are part of what makes the Black Horse so popular and helped win us Pub of the Year recently. It wouldn’t be the same without them.”
Graham has launched a petition, claiming the ban will seriously affect his trade, particularly over Christmas and New Year.
It is the second time in recent years he has fallen foul of Preston Council regulations - his last pub in Lea was barred from holding a Sunday car boot sale because of a law dating back to the middle ages.
“I just don’t think the council like anyone doing well,” he stormed. “People come from miles around to visit our pub. It’s unique.
“We’ve never had a complaint from customers about smoke. There just isn’t any in the pub. And once the fires are going there isn’t much outside either. So what’s the problem?”
The 115-year-old Black Horse is a Grade II Listed building, highly commended by English Heritage and is on the National Inventory of Historial Pub Interiors.
Just seven weeks ago it was voted Pub of the Year by the Preston Business Improvement District (BID) team, has been the location of a TV series and attracts visitors from far afield because of its little-altered interior with wooden panelling, tiled bar and mosaic floor.
Landlord Graham insists his log-burning fires, recently renovated at huge cost, are an integral part of the charm of the pub. They are popular with drinkers and would lose some of their appeal if they had to switch to smokeless fuel.
“A bloke from the council came in the other day and informed me I couldn’t burn logs,” he explained. “Someone had complained about smoke outside in the street.
“That’s nonsense because I’ve stood outside and there isn’t any wafting about. I use properly seasoned wood which is dry and doesn’t give off much.
“There’s going to be ructions when some of our regulars find out because they love the log fires. I’ve started a petition and I know I’ll get loads of signatures.
“In the meantime I’m going to continue lighting them, especially over the festive season. It would be a miserable Christmas without them.”
Preston Council insist only smokeless fuel can be burned in open fires in the city centre. A spokesperson said: “Burning logs creates pollution through smoke and soot and we have had complaints about the smoke at the Black Horse pub.
“Like most towns and cities, Preston city centre is covered by a smoke control order that means only smokeless fuels can be burned on an open fire. Logs can be burned, but only in special wood burning appliances that take out the soot and smoke. The rules are for the benefit of everyone and we are happy to work with the business owner to help them comply.”