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Lads of the Village pub in Elizabeth Street, Stone reverts back to cash only amid cost of living struggles

A 230-year-old pub earmarked for closure is going back to cash only in a last-ditch effort to save money and “pay its staff”.

Despite the inevitable shift towards a cashless society, The Lads of the Village pub in Elizabeth Street, Stone, has announced it will be reverting back to the old fashioned payment method.

Landlord Sean Holland, who has run the pub for the past 45 years, said: “We will save £250 a month by getting rid of card payments.

“We are not getting enough money in the till. I have got to pay the staff, so this will help.”

The 80-year-old added: “We’ve only got a couple of months left so we’re going back to where we started.”

The old-style payment method starts today (July 17) and has the backing of the pub’s loyal regulars.

Customer Andrew Guard, who has lived in the area for 12 years, said: “I knew we were a good old-fashioned pub.

Landlord Sean Holland says the pub is going back to cash only. Picture: Andy Barnes
Landlord Sean Holland says the pub is going back to cash only. Picture: Andy Barnes

“Cash only is refreshing in this post-covid age as everywhere seems to be card only.

“I’m not out of the habit of getting cash out each week after I’m paid so I do get a build-up of cash in my wallet, I can now use some in the Lads.”

The historic pub’s landlord says they will save money by not accepting card payments as they will no longer need to invest in credit and debit card processing machines or repay the fees associated with credit card transactions.

They will also not need to pay chargeback should they need to make refunds.

Sean said he is having to dip into his own savings to fund the pub at the moment as the cost-of-living crisis takes its toll.

The Lads of the Village
The Lads of the Village

“We are putting some of our money into the pub to keep it going,” he explained.

“Electricity and everything else is going through the roof and we are just not making the money we used to.”

As well as the rise of utility bills, Sean said the cost of beer has also increased, meaning customers often prefer to buy it cheaper from the supermarkets and drink it at home.

He added: “Covid didn’t do us any favours either. It killed off a lot of our business as the older folk don’t come out anymore.

“They got used to staying at home and having a beer in front of the television.”

The Irishman and his wife Julie have until January 3 before they must leave the pub after reportedly being told by the private company that manages it they intend to repurpose it , by either demolishing or renovating it.

Lads of the Village pub in Elizabeth Street, Stone
Lads of the Village pub in Elizabeth Street, Stone

The pub will call last orders on New Year’s Eve.

But while there is still more than five months of drinking to be done, Sean is already working on clearing out the furniture and paraphenalia he no longer needs.

“After we close on New Year’s Eve we will only have a couple of days to get rid of everything in the pub and the flat upstairs so we’re starting now,” he said.

And Sean wants to make sure everything he owns goes to a good home.

“I’ve already given away a couple of microwaves to members of staff,” he added.

But he still has plenty more to go, including a double bed, two single beds, bedding, cupboards a dining table and four chairs and a living room suite from the pub’s upstairs flat.

Everything needs to go in the Lads of the Village pub in Stone
Everything needs to go in the Lads of the Village pub in Stone

Then there is the bar area itself which is packed with furniture including two darts boards, a billard table, old pictures from Sean’s days in a brass band and pub trips to golfing competitions.

There is even a glass cabinet filled with artefacts including grenades, medals and bullets from the boozer’s annual trips to the Battle of the Somme.

As a way of continuing his charitable work, which has already seen the pub raise more than £129,000 for Cancer Research UK in the last 45 years, Sean is inviting anyone in need to come to the pub and help themselves.

“We won’t charge you,” he said. “We don’t need any of it.

“Anything that isn’t nailed down needs to go.”

Even the pub furniture will need to go at some point, although Sean will have to wait for last orders to remove them.

Everything must go in the Lads of the Village pub
Everything must go in the Lads of the Village pub

As for more sentimental items Sean has handed out various ornaments to members of staff.

And will he be keeping anything for himself?

“I’ve got all my memories,” he said. “I might just keep a few pictures.”

Stone Parish Council has been campaigning to save the pub and protect the building as a local heritage landmark by nominating it as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) or a local heritage asset.

A planning application for the erection of two three-bedroom semi-detached homes with parking and amenity space was permitted in 2018.

Reserved matters were approved in 2022 but to date only minor groundworks have been carried out at the site.

Dartford council has the power under the Localism Act to nominate the pub as an ACV if the asset champions the community’s social well-being or social interest, and is likely to do so in the future.

If it is accepted as an ACV, the community can then decide if they want to form a bid to buy the pub if the freeholder chooses to put it on the market.

Those fighting for the pub now face an agonising wait to find out if their appeal has been successful.

Listing the building as a local heritage asset or ACV does not prevent redevelopment or demolition but adds to the considerations in assessing any planning application

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