‘Too much too late’ - landlord wins battle but Old Town pub stays closed
THE vindication of a Leamington licensee in his battle to keep his red-painted and flag-adorned pub in its current condition is somewhat bittersweet.
Mick Drake, who ran the Queen Victoria pub in High Street, won a long-running battle against Warwick District Council when the council’s planning committee last week voted in favour of allowing him to retain the pub’s name, colour and signage.
But the father-of-two had already closed the pub - which had been boarded up for two years before he took it over - due to the frustration of the situation.
This left both himself and his wife Sarah, who worked at the pub’s bar, as well as another six employees, out of work.
Speaking after the meeting, which was held at Leamington town hall last Tuesday, Mr Drake said: “It’s too much too late as the business is now closed.
“I have spent £27,000 on doing work on the Queen Vic. Everything I have saved for, I have lost.”
The council had taken Mr Drake to court over changes he had made to the pub - a Grade II listed building which sits in Leamington’s conservation area - including repainting it in the same shade of red as the Queen Vic on the BBC series EastEnders and putting up a satellite dish, ‘beer garden’ sign and flags to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
In recent weeks, he had also been forced by the council’s environmental health officers to stop a live band from performing to mark the pub’s first anniversary as the Queen Victoria.
In a last ditch attempt to save the business this week, Mr Drake put in an offer to buy the pub from its owner Enterprise Inns - but he was unsuccessful.
He said: “Everyone keeps knocking on the door to ask why we’re closed. The whole of South Town is devastated. It’s such a shame.
“The only good thing about it is that when people walk past it, it will look the way I left it.”
Speaking at the planning committee meeting, Cllr Felicity Bunker said: “People who work in listed buildings should ask first before they do anything to the property. The building looks a bit garish and the banners shouldn’t be allowed.”
The committee voted to allow everything to remain as it is apart from the satellite dish. The pub meanwhile is now closed.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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