The landlord of a village pub says he is ‘shocked’ after receiving a letter telling him he has ten days to leave the premises.
Dan Smith, who has been at the helm of The Swan in Stewkley for just over a year, was stunned after a formal letter from the regional manager landed on his doorstep last weekend.
Mr Smith said: “A year on and an investment of £12,000 of my own money, the business has just reached a stage where it is becoming possible to envisage making the business sustainable.
“Takings in the last three months have been the best for years.
“Dealing with the pub’s owners has not been easy, but I had been led to believe that we could make this thing work.
“The letter was a bolt out of the blue – there was no warning.
“I called the regional manager who wrote the letter but I did not get a very helpful response.”
The news was a blow as Mr Smith has been preparing for Swan Fest, a two-day music festival in the pub’s garden over the August bank holiday weekend.
Ten bands had been booked for the event with proceeds scheduled to go to Alzheimer’s Research.
Mr Smith decided to raise money for the charity after he lost a family member to the disease.
He said: “I watched at first hand what a tremendously cruel disease it is.”
Mr Smith said an alternative location was now being sought for the event.
He said: “If it cannot happen at the pub then we are looking into whether we can have it at the Recreation Ground.”
Mr Smith said he felt very let down and angry at the way he was treated by Enterprise Inns, one of the largest pub companies in the country.
He added: “The Swan is very important to the community of Stewkley especially the older folk who come in and drink regularly.
“Enterprise Inns did not put in any money at first so I had to spend my own money doing things to the exterior, giving it a tidy up and making it comfortable.
“Over the course of six months we had made progress and I felt we had the community on side.
“I employed some young people from the village and then we came up with the idea for Swanfest.
“I felt this was something that would really help put the pub on the map.
“We had also just had planning permission agreed for some external work and then came the bombshell.
“I then received the letter saying I had to leave just one day before I was due to go on holiday with my family. I rung them and said I thought it had been sent to the wrong person but they told me it was genuine,” he added.
“I asked if I could have a bit more time and at least have the chance to go through with Swanfest.
“Their exact words were ‘we could have had you out today.’
“In all my years in business, I’ve never been treated like this.”
A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said: “The current publican at the Swan has been given notice to leave in line with the terms of his temporary business agreement.
“We had offered him the opportunity to take this popular pub on a longer term basis, however he opted to decline.
“A new, experienced operator will be taking it on to trade in due course and we hope that the local residents of Stewkley and the surrounding areas will visit to welcome them and show support for their local pub.”
Mr Smith is pictured above reading his termination letter and wearing a Swanfest promotional T-shirt.