Published: 06:00, 29 May 2021
| Updated: 15:52, 29 May 2021
A family which has run a village’s last-remaining pub for the last 12 years is set to leave.
The Watsons’ lease on the Huntsman and Horn in Broomfield, Herne Bay, will end in July, after they failed to strike an agreement with Punch Taverns to extend their stay.
Manager Beverly Clayton, whose parents Edward and Christine Watson took over the site in 2009, says it would not have been viable for her to run the building under the terms proposed by the brewery.
“We were going to take the lease, but on reflection, we’ve decided not to,” she explained.
“The rent would have been increased and they weren’t prepared to adapt the terms of our lease to make it easier for us.
“We went over the figures and found we wouldn’t be financially viable if we took a new lease.
“We’d basically be working for nothing and decided to leave.”
Ms Clayton believes that the business would need to be significantly expanded for the family to make ends meet under the new lease.
But she says Punch disputed the family’s inference that the changes would have dented profits.
“For one person on their own, it may be worth it because they wouldn’t be dividing their profit,” Ms Clayton continued.
“But for more than one person, it wouldn’t be unless you increase the business a considerable amount.
“My dad is 78 and my mum is 72. Four years ago, they were finding it extremely hard to manage the pub and it was in a state of decline, so me and my nephew [Stuart Watson] moved here to help them out.
“We’ve increased the sales, we’ve re-decked the whole of the inside and we’ve really enjoyed our time here.”
KentOnline revealed earlier this month that Punch had launched a bid to construct two four-bedroom houses in the pub’s car park.
The plan sparked anger among neighbours in Pond Cottages, which date back more than 200 years, who feared it would spoil “most historic and picturesque part” of the village.
The news of the family’s upcoming departure, as well as the brewery’s proposal to build the homes, has also prompted concerns online that the pub could soon close, like the Plough Inn nearby.
But Ms Clayton says she has been assured by Punch that it will employ a temporary manager at the Grade II-listed boozer until a new publican is found.
'It’s not the brewery pushing us out – it’s our decision...'
She added: “As soon as I read the rumours on Facebook, I got in touch with the brewery and they said they didn’t have plans to close.
"They are going to put a temporary manager in until they find somebody else.
“People are jumping to conclusions that the same thing that happened at the Plough will happen here.
“It’s not the brewery pushing us out – it’s our decision.”
Punch was unavailable for comment.