Why has town pub closed up?

Closed: The Fox and Lion pub, on the corner of Fox Lane
Closed: The Fox and Lion pub, on the corner of Fox Lane

Mystery surrounds the closure of one of Leyland’s most popular pubs.

The Fox and Lion, on the corner of Fox Lane, has been closed since before Christmas, despite it being one of the busiest times of the year for the industry.

A Guardian reporter visited the pub on Tuesday and found all the curtains were drawn and the door was locked.

At the back of the property the bins were also overflowing, and the pub was surrounded by litter and broken glass.

It is not yet clear why the pub has shut suddenly, or if it is only temporary measure.

But in December 2009, landlords Debbie McCarthy and Sam Ambrose spoke out against brewery Scottish and Newcastle.

They called for all the pubs in Leyland under management of the brewery to come together to fight against financial constraints imposed on them, due to high rents and expensive alcohol.

At the time, Debbie McCarthy said: “Sam and I have been in the game for six years and we absolutely adore it, but we just can’t do our jobs under this kind of financial pressure.

“I don’t understand why the pub company is behaving like this. If we are forced out of business they will lose our rent money.”

Fellow landlords in the town have spoken of their shock and disappointment at the closure.

Denis Donn, landlord of the Roebuck pub, opposite the Fox and Lion, said: “I don’t know what’s actually happening at the moment.

“It’s been fully closed for (more than) a week now, which is strange considering it’s the busiest time of the year for us pubs.

“It was a very popular place and I know the owners Sam and Debbie had had it for a few years.

“We’re doing well at the moment and are really busy – it has probably helped with them being closed. I don’t know whether it’s because people don’t know it’s closed and they then come into my pub when they find out.

“I would prefer it to be open though, it doesn’t do the town any good if another pub closes.”

Darren Miller, owner of the Barristers pub on Towngate, says he fears other pubs may follow in the Fox and Lion’s footsteps if plans for the Wetherspoons on Hough Lane go ahead.

He said: “We’re doing quite well bringing people into Leyland because we offer something a bit different, but you do worry that when Wetherspoons comes along all the little pubs will suffer.

“It’s a really nice pub the Fox and Lion, and it really is a shame it’s closed. I know the people running it were really good at what they did.

“The unfortunate thing at the moment is that the VAT is rising and the breweries have put the prices of the barrels up. And then you get places like Tesco who will go and make it cheaper. It is a shame.”

Nobody from Scottish and Newcastle was available for a comment.