More than 80 people packed a public meeting to support the owners of a Duffield pub fighting a huge hike in rent.
Supporters filled the village’s Weston Centre after Enterprise Inns announced the Pattenmakers Arm’s rent was to soar by 42 per cent in the next financial year.
The meeting came in the same week that the Derby branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) gave the Pattenmakers Arms the title of country pub of the year.
Landlady Claire Muldoon, who has run the award-winning pub, in Crown Street, Duffield, since 2006 said the rent increase would leave her with less than £10,000 in take home pay annually.
Pub regular and retired schoolteacher Judy Taylor made an impassioned plea to the meeting after villagers were told a change of management at the pub would damage community spirit in the village.Registered blind, Mrs Taylor uses the Pattenmakers Arms to meet others with visual impairments for a luncheon club.
She said: “If it were not for the Pattenmakers this village would not be a community in any way that it is.Without it the heart of this village is going to stop beating. People come from miles around for the lunches.”
Mid-Derbyshire Tory MP Pauline Latham attended the session and promised to present a 1,000-strong petition to Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable MP.
She said: “It is giving a lifeline to those people who find it difficult to get out and about. I understand everyone here feels very passionate about this. Anything you feel you can do, do. I have no magic bullet.
“To have so many people turning up on a filthy horrible afternoon is a testament to the work Claire has done.”
GMB Union branch secretary Dave Mountford, who runs the Boat Inn at Cromford led the meeting. Enterprise Inns say the terms on offer “reflect current market conditions” and include “significantly greater barrelage discounts than were previously available”.
Mr Mountford said: “They believe they are untouchable . Even if they became nice overnight they couldn’t behave in any different way.”
A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said: “It is extremely unfortunate that there is misinformation surrounding the circumstances of this case. Mrs Muldoon’s five-year lease will shortly expire and, as was agreed with the landlady at the start of her tenancy, the pub is now available for offers in the open market – including from Mrs Muldoon. The terms on offer to Mrs Muldoon reflect current market conditions and include significantly greater barrelage discounts than were previously available. We have explained the facts to Pauline Latham MP and having sought to engage with Mrs Muldoon we will continue to do so."