Bob Mitchell and Sharon Austin, of Chartham’s George Inn, have been accused of being drug takers, have had unwanted pizzas and taxis sent to them, received silent phone calls and false bookings, and believe their every move is being reported to the authorities.
Acting on complaints about planning issues, Canterbury City Council has threatened them with a possible £20,000 fine or two years in prison over static caravans at the back of the pub in Shalmsford Street.
Landlady Sharon Austin feels someone is waging a vendetta against her
Sharon, 56, said: “There is no doubt that a hate campaign is being carried out against us.
“We feel like our every move is being complained about, sometimes seemingly just minutes after we’ve done it.
“We are getting taxis sent, takeaways and someone even claimed we are drug addicts.
“Worse still, the council seems to be doing the bidding of the people who are targeting us in the village.
“It is turning into a nightmare.”
Pub landlady Sharon Austin
Bob, 50, known as Mitch, and Sharon took the pub on in August last year and opened at Halloween after spending thousands doing it up. They decided that in order to make a living they needed to offer punters more than just food and drink.
Static caravans for accommodation were moved to the back of the pub, a children’s play area was created with farm animal enclosures and a memorial garden is being built for her nephew Chris Austin, a musician who died, aged 38, from cancer earlier this year.
“There are something like 26 pubs closing a week and all we wanted to do was offer people a diverse experience here" - Sharon Austin
The council says the caravans are in breach of planning rules because they affect the look of the area.
But Sharon counters that a new 26-house estate across the road, which replaced a historic oast house, affects the area far more.
And she is furious that the council is refusing to tell her who in Chartham is behind the complaints about the George.
“Apparently, if they tell me I might commit a criminal act – which is rubbish, of course,” Sharon said.
Bob added: “There are something like 26 pubs closing a week and all we wanted to do was offer people a diverse experience here.
“There’s nothing like this around here. All these complaints have done is strengthen our resolve to make the business a success.”