‘It’s no good, I’m closing the Queen Vic,’ says Leamington landlord
A PUB licensee says his attempt to bring a flavour of television royalty to Leamington has been thrown back in his face - and now he wants to close his business.
Shortly after taking over the previously derelict Pig and Fiddle pub in High Street two years ago, Michael Drake decided to change its name to the Queen Victoria and re-paint it so it resembled the famous pub of the same name in the BBC soap EastEnders.
But last week, more than a year after the changes were made, Warwick District Council told him he would need to change the name of the establishment. Although this order was then retracted, Mr Drake was ordered to re-paint it - and threatened with a £20,000 fine unless he reduced noise volumes at the pub on Friday and Saturday nights.
Then on Wednesday this week, the former KoKo’s manager was told he would need to remove the image of Queen Victoria from the swinging board outside the pub.
He said: “We wanted to get away from the image of an old Irish bar and thought Queen Victoria was appropriate because of the royal status of Leamington and the fact that there is a statue of Queen Victoria in the Parade.
“We spoke to the BBC who happily gave us the paint codes for the red and gold colours of the Queen Victoria pub in Eastenders and painted our pub not long after changing the name.
“Why have these things suddenly become an issue now? I pay out of my own pocket to have a doorman on Friday and Saturday nights to keep the noise down when people go outside for a cigarette. We have never had any complaints apart from on the first weekend after opening, when a door was left open by mistake.
“The council is definitely picking on us. This is relentless targeting.”
He added: “This pub is probably one of the smartest-looking buildings in the street. But I am planning to close it now. All we are getting is grief. It will be closed an boarded up once again.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The Queen Victoria pub is a Grade II listed building within the town’s conservation area. The district council’s planning enforcement team is currently investigating alleged unauthorised changes to the building and is in contact with the licensee in that respect.”
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Weather for Leamington
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 18 C
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