HEARTBROKEN publicans Tina and Dave Dolling say a dispute over poor living conditions has forced them to quit their local.
The couple, who ran The Fort Cumberland Arms in Eastney Road, Portsmouth, say they were given no choice but to leave this week.
The windows were falling through, it was a nightmare. We were just sleeping in the bar on sofas, it was that bad.Tina Dolling, ex-landlady of The Fort Cumberland Arms
They say the pub’s upstairs accommodation was so run-down they had to sleep on sofas in the bar and claim they were given no help by its owner Chris Hunt.
And they say the lack of support meant they refused to pay rent for the last six weeks of their stay.
But Mr Hunt hit back saying the couple were liable for repair costs and he tried to help where he could.
Tina, who ran the pub with husband Dave for three years, said: ‘It’s broken our hearts.
‘It wasn’t good upstairs.
‘The windows were falling through – it was a nightmare.
‘We were sleeping in the bar on sofas – it was that bad.
‘The rain would come in because the windows were so rotten.
‘We told the owner “this needed doing and this needed doing”, and he didn’t bother.
‘But it was nice because the locals did a surprise party for us.
‘It was lovely.
‘We haven’t stopped crying. It’s a shame what’s happened.
‘As long as Mr Hunt gets the pub back open and running again like a community pub then that’s the main thing. It should be that way.’
The pub endured flooding and fended off an application to turn the building into a children’s nursery.
Fort Cumberland Arms regular Tim House said he was devastated.
He said: ‘We are all gutted by what’s happened, considering all the work that Tina and Dave did to bring the pub back up.
‘It became the busiest pub in the area by far. In the end, they just had enough. They were sleeping in squalor.’
Mr Hunt said the pub will open on Monday under a new tenant.
He said: ‘They were under a full repair obligation. They didn’t pay rent.’