PUNTERS bid a sad farewell to the landlord of an historic pub.
There are fears The Fountain, in London Road, North End, will close for good after landlord Pat Wears said goodbye after 20 years yesterday.
It follows the closure of The Lanyard after the owners went bankrupt earlier this month.
Speaking from behind the bar of the 120-year-old Fountain, Mr Wears said he felt he was being forced out because of a dispute with brewery Enterprise Inns.
He said: ‘There has been scaffolding up outside the pub since May. This is a Grade II listed building and they are saying I am responsible for the work on the outside and I say I’m not.
‘It would cost £60,000 to put right and I can’t afford it.
‘The lease has been up for 18 months but no-one will touch it because they are put off by the scaffolding. And beer sales are down by 40 per cent because of it too.
‘They have put me in an impossible situation.’
Mr Wears’ wife Rita said: ‘We’re very sad to say goodbye.
‘We’re going to miss all our lovely customers so much. We’ve been here 20 years and we didn’t want to go like this.’
Mr Wears said if he had sold the lease, as he’d originally planned rather than having to leave early, he would have walked away with £50,000 which would have gone towards his retirement.
But he says he has actually lost £30,000. The couple will continue to live nearby and spend more time with their family.
Malcolm Abraham, known as Bill, has been using the pub for 46 years.
The 70-year-old, of Connaught Road, North End, said: ‘This is a very sad day.
‘This is a warm, friendly pub with no trouble. There is nowhere else like it around here. I don’t know where I’m going to go now.’
And staff face an uncertain future too. Karen Benford has worked at The Fountain for seven years. She said: ‘I’m devastated but I understand the reasons they are going. I really hope it reopens.’
A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said: ‘We are in discussion with the publican at The Fountain on a number of subjects related to the pub.
‘We do not discuss private and confidential matters between the company and our publicans, however we will continue to work with them to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome.’