The Union pub in Westgate Street, Gloucester to close tonight
SPIRALLING debts mean The Union pub will shut tonight after bailiffs moved in.
The popular Westgate Street venue might have pulled in £300,000 of trade in the past 12 months but landlord Richard White said it wasn’t enough.
He and his business partner Matt Foster are shutting up shop in the face of “extortionate” business rates.
They had been forking out £400 per week in rates and the same amount in rent to the owner Enterprise Inns. But bailiffs turned up this week and now they are demanding £1,245 by Friday – but Mr White will hand in the keys.
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He said: “We owed around £2,000 in business rates. What with the rent on top, these rates are extortionate.” Enterprise Inns were unavailable for comment.
It will be 42-year-old Mr White’s last pub venture after running boozers on and off since he was just 18.
He said: “We have been telling our customers this week and obviously they are upset because it has always been a great atmosphere in here.”
More than £1million of business rates still remains uncollected in Gloucester. In the past year, 217 firms in the city have been subject to bailiff instructions. Gloucester city councillor Fred Wood, cabinet member for performance and resources, said: “Business rates are something that we are obliged to collect on behalf of the Government.”
John Huggins, owner of the nearby Westgate pub, said: “Business rates are something we all have to pay but in this current climate they are a struggle.
“You would be shocked if you saw the bills we have to pay out each month with the rates, PAYE and VAT, as well as the utilities.”
Denise Kirby, owner of Poppy & Harry’s, in Westgate Street, pays £900 per month for her rates but receives a support grant from the council.