Struggling pub forced to launch crowdfunding campaign

By Gary Lloyd contact

- Last updated on GMT

Desperate times: the Marina Fountain has had to diversify during the pandemic but fears the worst
Desperate times: the Marina Fountain has had to diversify during the pandemic but fears the worst

Related tags: Legislation, Finance, Tenanted + leased, Food, Health and safety, Social responsibility

East Sussex pub, the Marina Fountain, has launched a GoFundMe campaign after the Omicron Covid variant, mixed messaging from the Government and a paltry grant allowance has left it in an “impossible situation”.

The St Leonards-on-Sea leasehold, which is operated by Jess Scarratt and business partner Rupert Walton, has reached almost £12,000 of its £15,000 target within 24 hours of its launch, with more than 300 people pledging cash.

Scarratt said on The Marina Fountain’s fundraising page: “I wish we were just here to say Merry Christmas but, unfortunately, we need to ask for your help to save the pub in this impossible situation that we find ourselves in, due to Omicron and a botched Government response.

“As you can imagine, it has been incredibly difficult running a pub over the past two years and now, when we still haven't really got back on our feet yet, it's like the rug has been pulled from under us in the most crucial period of the year – the few weeks before Christmas when we normally make most of the money that sees us through the winter.”

Grant allowance not enough

She added: “When we drilled down on the details of the grant announcement from Rishi Sunak, we would be entitled to a grant of less than £2,700, which is what we would take on a normal Sunday. We don’t want to be ungrateful but it simply isn’t enough.

“We felt we were right back in March 2020 where people were being told not to go out but the pubs were still open.”

The pub has been forced to cancel its big music nights this month either of its own volition or through artists cancelling and, after having to diversify into food during the height of the pandemic, it has now lost bookings totalling around 400 covers at the site that can seat 100 inside and the same number in its garden.

Heart-warming

Scarratt explained it was a customer who had the idea of launching a crowdfunding campaign and said the response has been “unbelievably heart-warming”. She said donations have come from regulars, DJs that have played at the pub before and even old school friends from 20 years ago.

“It’s touched a nerve with a lot of people and behind the scenes it can be very stressful,” she added. “We have 10 staff and having to let someone go just before Christmas would be… well, not a great feeling.”

To see how the GoFundMe campaign is going and to donate to it, click here​ for more details.

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