King Lud staff say they bought the ale to keep pub going

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The staff of the King Lud pub claim they were left to run the pub for months without enough money to buy beer before the leaseholders closed it down.

A former member of the bar staff team says staff had to buy the beer using their own money to see the Ryde Esplanade institution through several summer events, including Pride and the scooter rally.

According to staff, they again used their own money to buy the beer for the Beer and Buses event, just before the bar was closed down.

They also claim staff were mistreated, haven’t been paid correctly and are being told to seek help from the Citizens Advice Bureau rather than liaise with their former employers.

The staff spokesman said: “Me and the team have been left in the pub for five months with little or no contact from the owner. We have been doing our best in a pub with no beer for five months.

The sign on the King Lud door – photo by Miranda Lockman

“We didn’t have any chairs left but they refused to give us any money for anything, they just didn’t want to spend any money on the pub. We’ve been doing our best with what we’ve got. The owner just didn’t help us.

“The treatment of the staff was horrendous, sometimes they would just go in and say, ‘you haven’t got a job anymore, **** off’.

“On that Sunday night, it was the owner that closed the pub, the brewery [Ei Group formerly Enterprise Inns] had nothing to do with it. They pulled the band off halfway through, mid-gig and sent everyone out of  the pub.”

Referring to photographs of the owner pulling the last pint before closure, the staff member added: “That picture of her in the pub…she hasn’t been in there for five months.

“We’ve put in overtime that there is no record of, so we have never been paid for it. Their accountant isn’t helping us work out what holiday pay is owed, they’re just telling us to go to Citizens Advice.”

The King Lud in Ryde – photo by Miranda Lockman

Owner Suzy Read, who ran the King Lud with her husband, explained her husband had been running the pub for the past five months, and that the business closed after the couple put everything they had into the pub, financially and physically, since 2014 when they told Ei Group the business was unsustainable.

She added: “The staff refuse to accept the reality of the PubCo scandal, losing money for every pint poured, excessive rent and at least double market price on beer.

“They are understandably upset but also refused to sit down with our accountant on the night of the October 14 and calmly listen to the procedures put in place which would have been able to help us help them.

“They were not referred to CAB but to the accountant who runs our payroll direct, however as employees for less than two years their employee rights do not extend much further.

“They were not asked to buy beer themselves but I believe they did, and they always recouped the money straight away, quite rightly. We have not been able to afford to buy draught product from suppliers Ei group since May 2018 and we even had to remove the taps.

Removals van outside the closed pub on Thursday (October 25) – photo by Miranda Lockman

“The band were finished politely when the staff refused to follow polite instruction. The band JC and Angelina completely understood our predicament and went so far as to thank us for so much joy.

“The sacking and being told to **** off [claim] is very strange.”

A spokesman for the pub’s owners, Ei Group said: “We have been in regular contact with the publican at the King Lud, Ryde and can confirm the site is currently closed due to the publican’s decision to cease trading. We would like to reassure the local community that we plan to reopen the site as soon as possible.”

A petition has been launched to reopen the pub as soon as possible, it can be found here: change.org/p/ei-group-re-open-the-king-lud-asap


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