Rent rumpus as landlady attacks Marsworth ‘half-price pub’

The attractive White Lion in Marsworth has been shut since January
The attractive White Lion in Marsworth has been shut since January

A CLOSED pub has been put on the market for half the rent which forced out its previous landlady.

The picturesque White Lion in Marsworth has been boarded-up since January when business partners Pauline Payne and Jane Bishop moved out.

A10 WEEK 27'MCBH'rd'The White lion at Marsworth

A10 WEEK 27'MCBH'rd'The White lion at Marsworth

According to Pauline they were paying £58,000 for the annual lease of the canal-side property and now it is on offer on the Greene King website for £27,500.

Pauline said: “We gave it a go for three years but were not making money. We talked to Greene King about lowering the rent but they would not talk to us.”

The experienced publican, who has owned the nearby Anglers Retreat for more than 10 years, said the pub was busy in the summer but empty in the winter.

“It has only been in the last three weeks that people have been coming and asking about the lion. It just goes to show it was only busy in the summer.”

She said The White Lion was being financed by the second pub.

“It’s so attractive and perfect. But The Anglers was completely financing it. Even then it was a hard decision to make.

“There is definitely space here for both pubs, they are totally different,” said Pauline.

“When we closed I’d been telling them for 18 months that we couldn’t afford it.

“We sent a letter to their chief executive but they would not talk to us about it..

“They are now offering it for £27,500 a year. If they’d offered us that we’d still be there.

“We informed them in January that we were going to close but they didn’t try to reopen it until our lease expired in June.

“They could have had someone in there all this time but decided they’d rather do nothing and pick up the rent. It’s a real shame because it is such a wonderful setting but Greene King would not help.”

David Badminton, spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “The White Lion used to be a thriving pub about 15 years ago but it’s had so many owners since then.

“40 pubs close in the UK every week.

“There’s a lot of pressure in the pub trade. Greene King aren’t the only big chain up to this, some of them are in a lot of trouble.

“Who’s to say they won’t increase the rent as soon as they get someone in?”

The nationwide brewery confirmed the pub had shut in January and said it was looking to refurbish the building and have it open by the end of the year.

“Licensees are self-employed and take on the pub voluntarily to run their own business,” a spokesman said.

“We do everything we can to offer licensees the autonomy and freedom to do this successfully. Hundreds of our licensees are happy with the support and pubs we offer and run successful businesses as a result.

“We are now actively looking to recruit a new, suitable, permanent licensee who can take the White Lion forward and would welcome anyone interested to contact us.”