‘Tax chiefs want to put my pub out of business’

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A LANDLORD trying to make a success of a 300-year-old pub says council chiefs ‘have done everything to put us out of business’.

Ian Fender took over at The Olde Leather Bottle in Leverstock Green just over a year ago but he has faced a crippling business rate assessment and tax demands for a derelict flat above the bar.

“Me and my wife have not taken a penny out of this place. I’m trying to keep this business afloat because otherwise it will disappear,” he said.

“We have given this pub back to the community and the council have done nothing but stick obstacles in our way.”

Ian has lived in Leverstock Green since he was nine and was horrified to see the pub, built in 1725 with ship timbers from the Spanish Armada, alienate locals to cater for workmen from the M1 widening works. “They ran it into the ground,” he said.

However, the former accountant spent his first 10 months in charge battling the council over his business rate assessment.

“I was not going to pay it until it was right and I couldn’t pay it,” he said. “In the middle of service we had two burly blokes coming in threatening to take furniture away.”

Only last week Dacorum Borough Council gave a stay of execution on council tax demands for the flat.

In a statement the council said: “Business rates are set by the Valuation Office who assess the rateable value of the property, rather than Dacorum Borough Council.

“The flat above the pub has recently been granted a council tax exemption for the next 12 months due to it being uninhabitable. Dacorum Borough Council is committed to helping local businesses in a number of ways, including the Dacorum Business Support Partnership and the Dacorum Business Exchange.”