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Flooded pubs fear Xmas closure as adverse weather hits UK

By Gurjit Degun & Adam Pescod , 26-Nov-2012
Last updated on 28-Nov-2012 at 10:50 GMT2012-11-28T10:50:23Z

Scene of devastation: inside Polperro’s Old Mill Inn

Scene of devastation: inside Polperro’s Old Mill Inn

The adverse weather conditions of the past week have hit pubs hard, with some fearing they will not be up and running in time for Christmas.

Persistent rain and floods battered the south-west of the country over the weekend, and then moved north as the Environment Agency issued hundreds of flood warnings.

Jan Perry of the Old Mill Inn in Polperro, Cornwall, does not think she will be able to trade for a month, and is worried that closure over the Christmas period will lead to a loss in custom.

“The floods began at 6.30pm on Saturday night, and we managed to get customers out through the windows,” she said. “We got by on crisps and bottles of wine that night.

“The fire brigade came to pump out the water, which was eight inches deep, but gave up because it was so bad. We are at the lowest point in the village. It’s where the rain water ends up. The water has nowhere to go. We’ve never experienced anything like it. It is horrendous.”

Janice Thomas of the Mill on the Exe in Exeter, Devon, said she has lost more than £7,000 because of the floods. The pub saw two-feet-deep water. However, the site’s flood defence helped ease the force of the water.

Thomas and her staff stayed up overnight to move items out of the way to minimise the damage.

“On Wednesday morning, the water came in during the day so we had a chance to move things out of the way,” explained Thomas. “But we had to close the pub that evening. At the week-end it was even worse. The water came in around 4am on Sunday.

“We’ve been here two years and have never seen anything like it. We had to close the pub on Sunday when we usually take £7,000.”

Meanwhile, Mark Green, Arkell’s tenant of the Rose & Crown at Lea, Wiltshire, saw a 90% drop in trade at his pub on Sunday because people could not get to his pub.

“It was the worst day I have ever had in my entire career,” he said.

“Normally on a Sunday we would have about 50 to 60 covers, but we only had six for lunch this Sunday. It has not caused us any financial problems in terms of insurance costs, but it has grossly affected trade.”

Other licensees said they were lucky to escape the floods. Ruth Handford, assistant manager of the Vine Tree Inn, in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, said the pub managed to avoid the worst of the flooding, but added that she had to close early last Wednesday as a precaution.

“We had a little bit of water in but nothing drastic,” added Paulette Bigg, of the Holywell Inn, in Holywell Lake, Somerset. “We had to close the pub on Thursday evening but we were able to reopen again on Friday.”

Caroline Hayden of the Ruishton Inn, Ruishton, admitted she was lucky to escape after flooding hit the Somerset village. “It got very deep in a lot of places but it didn’t actually get to us. We were lucky.”

Otter Brewery helped pubs stay open over the weekend by providing extra beer supplies. Luke Roberts, team sales manager, said: “The Queens Arms’ (in Pitminster, Taunton, Somerset) cellar was out of action (because of flooding), so we were able to supply them with more beer so that they could stay open over the weekend.”

A spokesperson for Enterprise Inns said: “We provide a 24 hour help line on our property helpdesk to make sure our Publicans affected by the floods can always reach someone, and a dedicated insurance team to process and action claims as soon as possible.

"Contractors were arriving at our sites within four hours of the initial call to our helpdesk. The majority of our affected pubs are expected to be up and running again within a week.”

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