Valerie Spencer — known as LifelongLandlady on Twitter — and an active member of the campaign group Fair Deal for Your Local, vacated the Cock Inn in Lavenham, Suffolk, on 19 January after proposing to bring the lease to an end six years prior to its contractual expiry.
A spokesman for Enterprise said: “In late 2014, Valerie Spencer experienced a period of poor health and became unable to assist in the day-to-day running of the Cock Inn. Mrs Spencer [and husband Gavin] sought Enterprise’s assistance.
“When a tenant’s circumstances change, Enterprise is committed by its code of practice to review the issues affecting the business with the tenant and to seek to identify the most appropriate manner in which it can assist. Where there has been a material change caused by circumstances outside the tenant’s control, in this case the health of the tenant, Enterprise is prepared to adjust the commercial terms of the tenant’s agreement as appropriate.
“It was the most appropriate step to allow the tenants to surrender their lease. A commercial landlord without a shared interest in the operation of the premises may not have been so willing.”
Spencer, who won a PICA-Service case against Enterprise in 2013 after the company was found to be in breach of the spirit of its code of practice, but who dismissed the arbitration process as a “tokenistic pantomime”, told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser a brain haemorrhage had prevented her from continuing at the pub, “so I had to surrender”.
“I could never do that job again. My health is very fragile,” she said, adding that she would consider a new career in journalism “if I get better enough”.
Enterprise’s spokesman added that the Cock Inn had been on a 21-year lease granted in June 2000 to Clevant Ltd. In 2006, it was assigned to the Spencers’ business Prophecy Five Ltd for a “substantial premium” funded by a business loan, which was secured by a bank charge on the lease.
The Cock Inn is currently advertised on Enterprise’s website for a tenancy of up to five years with a guide rent of £37,900 per annum and discounts of £40 a barrel based on potential turnover of £357,000 per annum.
The company said: “We have had significant interest in it to date.”
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