Lancs pub boss calls for action on rents
A Lancashire pub boss has called on the government to order premises owners to cancel rents for hard-pressed landlords.
Workers in the licensed trade, CAMRA campaigners and others are concerned that many pubs may not reopen if they are burdened with huge debts through lost trade during the coronavirus lockdown.
Some pub companies have deferred or cancelled rent payments for tenants while they remain closed.
But some are still demanding payment, saddling landlords with huge debts while receiving no income.
Mike Hales of Imagine Inns, which has four sites in Lancashire, is contacting MPs urging action.
Imagine Inns has The Butlers Arms in Pleasington, near Blackburn; The Top Lock at Wheelton, near Chorley; The Railway at Bromley
Cross, Bolton; and now The Hawthorns, a restaurant and events venue at Blackrod, near Chorley.
Mr Hales said Imagine employed 90 members of staff, managers, and head office staff; swelling to 120 during the summer months.
He said that while Government support for businesses had provided some respite, he was fighting to keep staff and suppliers paid.
The owner of three of his sites, Star Pubs & Bars, was still charging Imagine Inns rent, albeit at a reduced rate.
Mr Hales said other pub companies were also charging rent and the NoPubNoRent movement had grown in response.
Mr Hales has urged the Government to intervene.
He said: "The aim of the movement is to unite all publicans, publicise the rent demands placed upon us and call upon pub-owning companies to support tied tenants during this crisis by cancelling all rent demands.
"If they do not, they will create hardship for thousands of publicans and will be directly responsible for the failure of many pubs including my own; resulting in the loss of jobs and contracts."
Many pub landlords are concerned that it may be many months before they can reopen - and at limited capacity.
Lawson Mountstevens, Managing Director, Star Pubs & Bars said: “We are and will continue to do as much as we can to help our pubs.
"In addition to the Government’s waivers and grants to help cover rent, salaries and other fixed costs, Star Pubs & Bars is providing rent reductions to pubs on an individual basis and suspending the collection of any rent until at least June or whenever pubs reopen.
"Once the restrictions are lifted, we want to see all of our pubs open, trading and operating as viable businesses as soon as possible."