Brewer pledges to save smallest pub
THE landlord of Britain's smallest pub says its owner's pledge to keep the watering hole open will not help his financial position – and has warned finding future publicans to run for the much-loved inn will prove difficult.
THE landlord of Britain's smallest pub says its owner's pledge to keep the watering hole open will not help his financial position - and has warned finding future publicans to run for the much-loved inn will prove difficult.
Martin Baylis said he had received assurances from Greene King that The Nutshell, owned by the Bury St Edmunds-based company, will not close - but he fears the brewing giant may soon face difficulties when searching for someone to take the business on.
He says the popular watering hole now only keeps afloat through the sale of t-shirts and other memorabilia to tourists.
The pub, in Bury's Traverse, has been losing money for the past seven years - leaving each of its landlords struggling to keep its doors open. Mr Baylis is currently attempting to boost his income by increasing the space available for customers by setting up tables and chairs outside.
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"The pub loses money every year and it is difficult to find somebody to take it on," said Mr Baylis, who has run The Nutshell for the last three years.
"The merchandise has helped greatly, and I do not think we would be surviving now without it. We are currently working on a website as well, and would sell more merchandise through that.
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"Part of the problem is that nobody believes the pub will collapse. Everybody says nobody would ever shut the pub down, but it is not a question of that.
"The owners will find people to take it on for the meantime, but eventually nobody will want to touch it because of the financial situation.
"And Greene King announcing the pub will stay open has made no difference. It does not get us out of the financial position we are in at the moment."
Mr Baylis had hoped to win street vending permission for tables and chairs outside his premises - but St Edmundsbury Borough Council turned down the application and is due to consider another bid next month.
The EADT has since launched a campaign to save the historic watering hole - with around 1,000 readers supporting the pub's bid for extra outside space to encourage custom.
And yesterday, officials from the council visited the site to assess the pavement space outside the regulars' favourite. It emerges there is only room for two tables and eight chairs outside the pub - and Mr Baylis, who had originally hoped for more provision, says it remains to be seen if this would make the all important difference.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Greene King said: "Greene King Pub Partners, the tenanted and leased division of Greene King Plc, offers its support to The Nutshell in its bid to overturn the decision not to grant external trading.
"As a tenant, the licensee Martin Baylis is self-employed and Pub Partners are encouraging him to challenge the decision of the council.
"With the new licensing laws coming into force later this year, Pub Partners does not want to see the pub unable to take advantage of the longer trading hours by being unable to accommodate customers."