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‘I can breathe again’ - pub owner’s relief as unpaid tax bill dropped

Damage to the Brick Kilns pub at Little Plumstead after a car crashed into the wall. Pub owner Paul Anderson-Cowles.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Damage to the Brick Kilns pub at Little Plumstead after a car crashed into the wall. Pub owner Paul Anderson-Cowles. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

The owner of a village pub said he can “breathe again” after a legal bid to recover a £145,000 unpaid tax bill was dropped.

Damage to the Brick Kilns pub at Little Plumstead after a car crashed into the wall. Pub owner Paul Anderson-Cowles.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYDamage to the Brick Kilns pub at Little Plumstead after a car crashed into the wall. Pub owner Paul Anderson-Cowles. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Paul Anderson-Cowles said he fell behind on his tax payments after a car ploughed into the side of the Brick Kilns pub, in Little Plumstead in 2016.

It resulted in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seeking a compulsory winding up order for his company, Honeycombe (UK) Ltd, earlier this year.

But at a hearing on Wednesday, HMRC decided not to pursue its application, leading to deputy judge Andy QC dismissing the winding up petition.

Mr Anderson-Cowles, who has run the pub since 1972, said: “It has been a bit of a strain, as you can imagine. But now I can breathe again.”

In August, the court was told Honeycombe lost trade after a Citroen car crashed into the Brick Kilns, causing major damage to a wall of the dining room.

Mr Anderson-Cowles said his takings fell from £25,000 to £9,000 during one week in June 2016.

The 71-year-old said: “It has been horrible, especially when I did my best to prevent such things [the crash] from happening in the first place by putting in bollards.

“If it was not for them, people would have been killed [by the vehicle].”

He said is currently pursuing an insurance claim, but added it had recently come to a “standstill”.

HMRC was seeking a total of £145,025.

Mr Anderson-Cowles said he would have kept the pub open even if he was forced to pay the bill.

But he added it would have been “extremely difficult”.

He said the pub’s summer trade was severely impacted by the incident in 2016 as repairs to his building were not completed until September.

“2016 was an exceptionally busy year and everyone was way, way up on trade,” he said.

“But for obvious reasons my trade was down. When we were boarded up we didn’t get any passing trade. “So instead of having this one-off magic summer, it turned out to be worse than the winter.

“The VAT is a big lump of our cash flow and I just didn’t have the turnover to pay for it.”

The pub, which sits at the junction of Norwich Road and Salhouse Road, is trading as normal.

“I can now relax and get things back to normal a bit,” Mr Anderson-Cowles added.

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