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The Crown in St Michaels at centre of money and licensing row

By Rachael Woods

A landlord has vowed to stay put in his pub amid a battle to evict him from the premises that has seen him forced to stop pulling pints.

Harry Purewal, landlord of The Crown in St Michaels, has had an application for a temporary licence to serve alcohol turned down by Ashford Borough Council (ABC) but he says he will remain open.

The dispute is centred on claims that Mr Purewal owes money to the pub's owners and to Mr Purewal's former guarantors, who were previous tenants of the business.

The Crown in St Michaels, near Tenterden
The Crown in St Michaels, near Tenterden

He says he will fight every inch of the way to keep the popular hostelry despite his lease expiring in December and the premises licence being surrendered by his guarantors on Wednesday, January 11.

The pub's previous tenants, Ian Halliday and business partner David Warner, who remained as guarantors of the limited company behind the pub when Mr Purewal took over, became his landlords in July after they claim rent went unpaid.

They are now chasing Mr Purewal for payments while they battle to reclaim the pub and claim they are having to make up payments.

The pub is ultimately owned by the Wellington Pub Company and managed by agent Criterion Asset Management, to whom monies were due.

Mr Purewal has since re-opened the Crown using a temporary events licence, which are usually reserved for weddings or band nights where there is no premises licence.

Landlord Harry Purewal.
Landlord Harry Purewal.

But ABC ruled that he will not be allowed to sell alcohol and has vowed to take action if "unauthorised sale or supply" of alcohol is found to be taking place.

A statement on the pub's Facebook page on Friday night said of the licence rejection: "We cannot legally open as we would do normally.

"However we will be open from 12pm until 12am on Saturday and 12pm until 11pm on Sunday and Wednesday.

"We will not be serving any alcoholic drinks but can serve soft drinks, tea and coffee."

Ashford Borough Council has not granted the pub a new alcohol licence
Ashford Borough Council has not granted the pub a new alcohol licence

On Tuesday, Mr Halliday and his wife Lesley met with ABC licensing officers and Criterion Asset Management in a bid to get Mr Purewal to leave. They have also held a meeting with the police.

A defiant Mr Purewal, who took over the reins of the pub fully in June 2013, has applied for a new licence in the name of The Crown Tenterden Ltd, and said: “I’m not going anywhere.

"I’m determined to continue to the end and everything is being done within the law."

“There is an ongoing legal dispute regarding The Crown and it’s in the hands of my solicitors.”

“We have turned The Crown around since coming here and have a massive customer base who have shown me great loyalty.

“The Crown is not just a pub, it is at the hub of the community and I have never been made to feel so welcome anywhere as in St Michaels.

“I’m determined to continue to the end and everything is being done within the law.”

The pub says it will still welcome customers to bring their own alcoholic drinks while food can be ordered in to be eaten at the pub, the statement added.

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