Mr Earp has been our successful tenant at the Royal Oak Inn for 17 years. So much so that Burrator Parish Council had granted him a guaranteed extension of his lease for another six years until 2029 – with NO changes to his conditions or opening hours.
In May this year Mr Earp failed to give the required notice that he wished to take up this extended lease. After giving him two gentle reminders and inviting him to meet with us to discuss the situation, we still received no written confirmation from him.
Several weeks on, the parish council decided it had no choice but to advertise for a new tenant publican. We began this process in August. Only at this time did we start the debate about the pubs opening hours being kept to a consistent period in the evenings.
Mr Earp then asked to be reconsidered as a candidate for the new lease which would start in November. The parish council agreed and asked him to join the interview process which he did.
A short time later, at the last minute, he decided to withdraw from the process. We are at a complete loss to understand why he began a campaign of vilification in the Press and on social media to blame Burrator Parish Council and its members for the situation.
Throughout the recent years of Covid lockdowns the council gave unconditional support to Mr Earp and provided rent relief and facilitated extra outside seating to help him trade, while he was still able to access the relevant government grants. Additionally, a rent review that was due in 2020 was put on hold to assist the tenant as it was appreciated the hospitality industry was going through a difficult time.
At the present time a new tenant has been selected and Mr Earp’s old lease has ended. There will be a trading gap between the time of Mr Earp’s departure and the installation of the new publican. The Parish Council will use this time to see that the Royal Oak Inn, a Listed Building, receives any decorating and maintenance that is required.
It is hoped to keep this temporary closure to a minimum while work goes on and the new tenant sets up for business. We wish both Mr Earp and our new Publican, yet to be announced, every success for the future.