The petition, which had more than 5,000 signatures at the time of publication, was started a fortnight ago to help persuade the pub company to change their minds on taking the lease back and changing the pub into a managed operation.
Ray and Tracey Bell have run the site for the past 19 years, making it a “successful, local, community pub”, the petition stated.
It says: “With a warm and friendly welcome, great atmosphere an done of the last remaining community pubs in the borough. Also not forgetting the great entertainment put on four nights a week.
“Over the 19 years they have been in residence, they have raised thousands towards local charities and helped the local community in whatever way they can. Every year the Red Lion has become better and better under Ray and Tracey.
“The pub company, Star Pubs & Bars, who they lease the building from, have served them a ‘section 25 notice’ to quit.”
The petition went on to criticise the pub company’s decision to put the pub into its managed arm – Just Add Talent.
Local community pub
It added: “They [Star] have informed them that from September this year, they will be taking the pub back and running it as a managed house. In a nutshell, it means their business and their home is being taken away from them and they are heartbroken.
“Star Pubs obviously don’t know what an asset they have with Ray and Tracey running this local community pub in the heart of the borough.
“Putting a manged house with a corporate look and standard menu like the rest of their Just Add Talent pubs will not work in this borough! It is bad enough to be suffering from this pandemic but Ray and Tracey have now lost their family residence – a residence they have called home for the past 19 years.
“Many of us – no in fact all of us – go into this pub because [of] how you are welcomed by Ray and Tracey. It is a pleasure to be in the company of them. This has become a local meeting place for many people within the local community.
“Please sign this petition to make Star Pubs change its views on this pub and help save Ray and Tracey’s business and home.”
The Morning Advertiser understands the lease on the Red Lion comes to an end in September and the licensees were notified it would be available for renewal in January this year and were offered an extension in a bid to help the transition.
A spokesperson for Star Pubs & Bars said: “Under normal circumstances, we would meet with a licensee in person to deliver notice their lease would not be renewed. Unfortunately, due to lockdown, this was not possible.
“We called the Bells on the day the notice was delivered to explain this and to apologise for not doing so in person as well as to talk through the situation and discuss any concerns.
“Since then, we have been in regular contact and have offered the Bells a six-month extension to their lease to aid the transition.
“We would like to thank the Bells for all they have done at the Red Lion over the years.”