Brewery row landlady locked out of her Newington Green pub she ran for 11 years and can’t even collect her personal belongings
PUBLISHED: 17:21 13 November 2013 | UPDATED: 17:21 13 November 2013
A popular landlady turfed out of her pub by a brewery is now locked out of the building and cannot even collect her personal belongings – including photographs of her dead husband.
Kirsty Valentine had been behind the bar and living upstairs at the Alma, in Newington Green, for 11 years, but after a disagreement with Enterprise Inns, which owns the pub, she was evicted on Friday morning with just 12 hours’ notice.
People in the area have rallied round the beleaguered pub and a campaign to make it an Asset of Community Value (ACV) under the localism act has already garnered more than 800 signatures.
Ms Valentine says she had an agreement with the bailiffs that the Newington Green Road pub would remain untouched until she came to collect her personal belongings and return the items on loan from other companies.
But when she arrived on Tuesday morning, security guards prevented her from entering her former home.
She said: ”We had an agreement that we could come back and get everything and Enterprise has totally reneged on that. It’s not just me – there are 20 or 30 companies out here and none of us can get in.
“My husband passed away four years ago and my photographs of him are up there, along with our wedding presents.
“They already have everything, now they want the shirt off my back, quite literally.
“We left calmly and with dignity on Friday on the understanding we could come and get our stuff. We even offered them £50,000 to save the pub. But they have gone behind our backs.”
Ms Valentine, who has been locked in a dispute with Enterprise after it put up her rent and banned her from selling her customers’ favourite cider, has been made homeless by the move and has been forced to stay with friends, along with her dog – a ridgeback called Titania.
She said: “It’s been a very difficult few days and this doesn’t make it any easier.
“You can come to terms with things very quickly if you have a plan, but when someone goes against it, it’s hard.
“Why can’t they let me take what’s mine? What purpose does it serve them having my duvet or my mattress?”
Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, said: “I have got to know Kirsty quite well and she is a fantastic woman who has done a great deal, not just in terms of the Alma but support for the community around Newington Green. Many people have huge affection and respect for her.
“This is disgraceful behaviour by Enterprise, not just in their attitude to her as a tenant but now in their appalling approach to the issue of her personal possessions.”
A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said they had repeatedly tried to compromise with Ms Valentine, and offered her support, flexibility and direct financial help, but she had not honoured her tenancy agreement.
He added: “Regrettably therefore, we have been left with no alternative but to revoke her tenancy and will seek to put in place a new operator as soon as possible.
‘‘We are absolutely committed to ensuring that the Alma continues to be a great pub at the heart of its community.”
Ms Valentine has now been asked to turn on the Newington Green Christmas lights on November 26.
She was instrumental in raising the £4,000 needed to make sure the lights would be up and running in time for the festive season.
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