Ottery landlord says commercial company is killing pub’s trade

Ron Miles behind the bar at the lamb & flag in Ottery. Ref sho 3816-39-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Ron Miles behind the bar at the lamb & flag in Ottery. Ref sho 3816-39-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Stalemate as owners fail to make necessary repairs to deteriorating building

The landlord of a once-thriving Ottery pub says the commercial company that bought the business is killing trade with its failure to take action.

Ron Miles, of the Lamb and Flag, has spoken out in frustration and accused NewRiver Retail of repeatedly failing to carry out vital renovations as the building falls into a further state of disrepair and continues to lose custom.

The landlord, along with his wife Angi, took on the pub seven years ago and invested £200,000 of their own cash in the business, but despite repeated offers to buy it themselves, the couple say have reached a stalemate with the company.

NewRiver acquired the Lamb and Flag and 158 other pubs across the country from Punch Taverns in a £53.5million deal last September, but Mr Miles says repeated failures to carry out any maintenance has resulted in water leaking from the upstairs bathroom into the kitchen storage below.

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He added: “NewRiver inherited the condition of the building. We approached the company and said we have problems with the structure of the building and asked what would be done about it.

“In the restaurant, we have mold coming through the wall. The lack of repairs has damaged our trade.”

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He added that people from NewRiver have come to view the premises, but, despite promises, nothing has been done about the condition of the building.

Mr and Mrs Miles say they are currently playing the waiting game while NewRiver fails to commit to investing or selling the business.

A spokesperson for NewRiver REIT plc said: “There were a lot of inherited problems with the Lamb and Flag building and we needed to carry out necessary investigations and surveys.

“The pub has clearly been starved of investment for many years and it was important to have a complete picture of how it can be brought up to the required standards. We are close to being in a position to decide our next steps. Our preferred course of action is to inject new investment into the pub and we hope to confirm that shortly.”

Mr Miles disputed that it was not lack of investment that was the problem, but a lack of maintenance on the part of the owners.

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