Fire warning gets the blame for pub closing its doors

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A VILLAGE pub has closed after it was branded a fire hazard.

The Vine, in West Street, Hambledon served customers for the last time on Thursday.

Adam Rainford, who ran the pub with his business partner Alex Baker, said they had no choice but to move on after fire officials told them the pub didn’t meet fire safety regulations.

Fire exits in the bar and staff living area upstairs weren’t considered to be good enough escape routes.

The pub was recently left without heating and hot water after its main boiler broke.

An engineer from the pub’s leaseholder Marston’s PLC was due to carry out repairs at the beginning of the week – but they failed to show up.

An extractor fan and tiles in the kitchen also needed replacing.

Mr Rainford, 30, who had been in charge since August, said: ‘I’m absolutely gutted because trade was going well.

‘We had a busy period in January and that was seeing us through.

‘This was my ninth pub and its not normally how I like to leave things but we had no choice.

‘There was so much work that needed doing and the brewery failed to get it sorted.’

Four members of staff will lose their jobs but another has joined Mr Rainford and Mr Baker as they look to take-over The Five Bells pub, in Nether Wallop, Stockbridge.

Chris Dixon, 60, who was a regular at the pub, said: ‘It’s like losing a church or a school – they’re important parts of a community.

‘Back in the day, The Vine used to be a stonking pub that was full every night of the week.’

Brewing company Marston’s PLC has held the leasehold of The Vine since it bought out former leaseholder Celtic Inns in 2005.

The company is now looking to recruit a new tenant.

Spokeswoman for Marston’s Liz Slee said: ‘The tenants have made the decision to close The Vine pub.

‘It’s a shame because it’s a wonderful village pub that offers huge potential for the right operator.

‘We look forward to announcing news of its reopening very soon.’