CAMPAIGNERS are calling on pub companies to stop charging rents during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Otley Pub Club and the British Pub Confederation are among those demanding a cancellation of commercial rents while inns stay closed.

Pubs across the country have suffered a sudden loss of income since the lockdown began but many of the large pub companies are continuing to charge rent - though they are suspending collecting it for now.

Otley Pub Club Chair Rob Skinner says that is unacceptable: “We stand in solidarity with all Otley licensees in this challenging time and all publicans need financial support to get through this crisis, as do many businesses.

“We’re dismayed that some pub owners are intending to charge rent on closed pubs with no trade and to tenants with no income. We call on all pub owners, including Star Pubs and Bars which owns six of Otley’s pubs, to do the right thing and announce they are cancelling rent during closure.

“The attitude of most of the large pubcos also shows that we need more pubs owned by those who run them.”

Chair of the British Pub Confederation - and Otley Pub Club’s President - Greg Mulholland said: “It’s a scandal that some of the largest pubcos are still charging rent to pub tenants during the forced closure.

“It’s also grossly disingenuous to pretend to help simply by deferring rents. We will name and shame all companies who refuse to cancel rent during the closure as well as praising those who have done the right thing and we commend Admiral Taverns, Hall and Woodhouse, Fullers, Wadworth’s and others who are actually helping their tenants through this crisis.

“We call on Star Pubs and Bars, EI Group/Stonegate, Greene King, Marston’s, Punch Taverns and other pub owning companies with tenants to do the right thing and support licensees - which must mean no rent.”

The Managing Director of Star Pubs & Bars, Lawson Mountstevens, said: “In addition to the Government grants to help cover rent, salaries and other fixed costs Star Pubs & Bars has suspended the collection of rent and associated charges from its leased and tenanted pubs until at least the end of April; thus giving an immediate cash flow relief to all our pubs.

“In addition, we are replacing out-of-date stock for free when pubs reopen. Once the restrictions are lifted we want to see all of our pubs open, trading and operating as viable businesses. We know the additional support we provide in the coming weeks on a pub by pub basis will have a long-term bearing on future relations with our licensees and the sustainability of our pubs, both of which we want to see thrive.”