A battle royal is brewing at an award-winning Irish pub in London. The Cock Tavern in Somers Town is locked in a struggle for survival — with local people and regulars opposing moves to have the landlady’s lease terminated. And now RMT union leader Bob Crow has joined the rumpus, throwing his weight behind the campaign to keep the pub open and landlady Sheila Gavigan behind the bar.
“Too many working-class pubs in the centre of our workingclass communities have already been driven out of business in the interests of speculative greed. The RMT, as close neighbours and whose members and branches use the pub, is determined to stop that fate befalling the Cock.”
The Cock Tavern in Somers Town only recently received a community service award from the Mayor’s office in London. But it is alleged a two-year campaign has been waged against the pub in an attempt to drive it out of business. The pub, which is home to two separate Celtic Supporters clubs, is being supported by locals who say it represents threatened inner-city communities in the capital. Bob Crow has described the stand-off as a battle between “real Londoners and the money men”.
Solicitors representing Sheila Gavigan say the landlady has 12 years to run on her lease. They told The Irish Post the business — now run as a going concern — has been the subject of unreasonable financial demands. In March, offshore property company Firestrike applied for possession of the property. Their application was rejected and solicitors representing The Cock Tavern have since submitted a counter-claim, which is due to be heard in the London County Court in October.
Ms Gavigan, from Sligo, has run the business since 1999. She said The Cock Tavern was “a community pub for locals” and she “was honoured” to receive a community service award from the Mayor’s office. She said she wants to continue running the business under the terms of her original lease agreement. Since the property was bought by the holding company she has dealt with pub management firm, County Estates.
Instructing solicitor George Scott told The Irish Post the property developer has created a “manufactured debt”, which will “technically” force a breach of the inherited lease agreement. One supporter said locals believe the leaseholder is being “muscled out” because the developers intends submitting a planning application for change of use on the premises.
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Source: Robert Mulhern, The Irish Post