A PETITION to change laws affecting pub landlords has gained more than 1,600 signatures after five North Cumbria pub-running families were revealed to be facing eviction.

In a bid to ensure that the time and money invested by publicans has not been wasted, a campaign has been launched by the tenants at the Marston’s Brewery-owned Oddfellows Arms, Bank Tavern, George Hotel and the Dogs Inn at Keswick and the Royal Oak in Braithwaite,

Marston’s, which owns Jennings Brewery, are currently set to not renew the licences at the venues.

The Landlord and Tenants Act stipulates that brewing companies do not renew licences if the business instead takes over operations.

Carl Maloney, who is the landlord at the Oddfellows Arms, started the petition and is asking for reform to the law which was introduced in 1954.

He outlined the aims of the campaign stating: “We need to stop pub companies from taking a business off pub landlords after they have spent years of their lives and invested thousands of pounds building up a business, only to have the pub company not renew the lease and not reimburse the outgoing tenant for the business they have created.”

“This is now common practice. Pub companies give tenants three or five year leases, they then take over the business for themselves once it has been established and improved.”

He added that although this practice was not illegal, it was “highly immoral”.

Mr Maloney said his family had invested their own money to refurbish the Oddfellows Arms.

“In our case, two generations of our family have spent 39 years establishing a business that now flourishes.

“We were convinced to spend our life savings on a refurbishment, even though the brewery Marstons were taking the decision at the same time to take over the business for themselves and not renew the leases.”

He said that the situation facing his venue, was being repeated in other pubs.

“All of the tenants have invested great deals of their own money to improve and adapt to the ‘new normal’.

“We have all just survived the Covid 19 lockdowns, and are now working under difficult restrictions, with table service and heavily reduced capacity.

“Our only hope is that public opinion can either get the law changed or force Marston’s to renew our leases.”

Members of the wider Cumbria community have rallied in defence of the publicans with many particularly aggrieved by the treatment of landlords after having invested so much time and money in running the venues.

Ronnie McDonnell said: “This is grossly unfair on the tenants of these pubs who have spent a large amount of time effort and money in building their businesses.”

More than 1,600 people have now pledged support by signing the petition.

John Holloway added: “We have to support our local landlords who have invested a great amount of their own money to keep these premises in good order for the enjoyment of all their customers.”

Marston’s and Jennings were both approached by the Times & Star but were unavailable for comment.