ENTREPRENEUR Howard Spooner says he has been forced to close a village pub near Marlborough after he claims brewery Wadworth went back on a deal to lower his rent and charge him less for beer.

Mr Spooner locked up The Outside Chance in Manton two weeks ago amid acrimonious dealings with the Devizes brewery which have now been put in the hands of solicitors by Wadworth.

Mr Spooner, who lives in the village, said: “I am very sad to have had to do this but I had no alternative. I am particularly sad that my loyal staff have lost their jobs.

“I feel bad for the people in the village who have supported me but I felt I had no choice. The pub had been running at a big loss for some time.

“At the start of the summer I thought I had reached an agreement with Wadworth but that never happened.”

He accepts that he owes the brewery money but says that the fixtures and fittings that he paid for in the pub are worth much more.

He said he still hopes a deal could be reached by one of three ways. These include him handing the pub back without having to pay the brewery any money; for Wadworth to sell him the freehold; or for a new deal over prices to be reached.

Wadworth CEO Chris Welham said this week: “The simple facts are that we don’t operate the pub business at the Outside Chance, we just provide a platform for self employed operators to run the business in the best way they see fit.

“It is for the operator to decide whether they take on board the advice that is given about how best to run the pub, what the offer is, how much labour to employ and how to manage their overheads. to ensure they are making the level of profit that a reasonably efficient operator is expected to make from the premises. The operator has to also look after their cashflow to ensure that all suppliers are paid and that the pubs can pay its way.

“In the case of the Outside Chance, we have placed the matter in the hands of our solicitors to look to bring matters to a close. We hope to see it trading again in the very near future.”