Former landlord of Bull Inn at Hellesdon says difficulties with Enterprise Inns “defeated him”

Former landlord of The Bull Inn, John Bunkell. Picture: Archant

Former landlord of The Bull Inn, John Bunkell. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The former landlord at the beleaguered Bull Inn at Hellesdon was put in place with no experience or training and was unable to pay staff before the pub closed last week, it has emerged.

The Bull Inn has closed just months after a new landlord took charge after “reported issues” with st

The Bull Inn has closed just months after a new landlord took charge after reported issues with staff. Picture: Dominic Gilbert - Credit: Archant

John Bunkell, a former planner and architect, took on the lease for the Bull from Enterprise Inns last summer, but has now been served notice to leave by the company. As the only pub left in the centre of Hellesdon, the Bull closed its doors last Thursday, with a number of staff still owed wages from December.

One was head chef, 43-year-old Glen Delph-Bootle, who is currently owed £2,500. 'I was the only member of staff who hung around to help,' he said. 'I started in October and it sounded really good. He said he had money to invest but at the first monthly meeting he said he was really short of money and couldn't pay us. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and even came in to help him on Christmas Day. 'It has left me in a complete mess. I couldn't pay rent or bills and my credit is gone. I have a new job now and next week will be paid for the first time in two months. We cancelled Christmas this year because we couldn't afford any presents. All I was trying to do was my job.'

Mr Bunkell said difficulties with Enterprise Inns had 'defeated him'. He said on arrival the kitchens had been condemned and he had to spend thousands of pounds making them fit for purpose. Eventually he withheld rent from Enterprise and fell into arrears. 'In hindsight I should have done a lot more,' he said. 'We lost a huge amount of business over the summer. By October I didn't see why I should be spending my money repairing everything.

'They were not going to budge from the fact I owed them money. Because I was overdrawn on my rent I had to pay for beer orders out of my pocket. It was easier to buy a barrel here and a barrel there, and they weren't impressed with that.'

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Mr Bunkell added he had been given the tenancy at will, without being put through the training course provided by Enterprise. 'The pub has never traded correctly while I was there,' he said. 'One thing or another just has not worked. The staff were aware of the financial situation of the pub and that the pub was floundering.

'I was being drained by everything else and I didn't have the money.'

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A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said they hoped to have the pub reopened as soon as possible.

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