High rent forces landmark inn to close

By Kathryn Powley, Geraldine Johns

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A landmark North Island pub will tonight after a dispute between the lessee and politician landlord.

Tirau's Oxford Royal Hotel is shutting after its lessee said she could no longer afford the rent for owner Arthur Anae, an Auckland City councillor.

Staff at the hotel were laid off last week. Attempts to negotiate a lower rent in had been unsuccessful, said lessee of four years Anne Clothier.

"We've been trying to negotiate regarding the high rent and the low turnover," said Clothier on Friday. "For the last eight months we've tried to sit down with the landlord to negotiate a reduction in rent, but no one will reply.

"I've reduced everything I can in expenses, apart from the lease."

Clothier said she and business partner Geoff Ratcliffe had to leave after their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Anae is one of three owners. Yesterday he told the Herald on Sunday: "The reason why I have fallen out with her is because she doesn't have the courtesy to respond to emails or texts or phones.

But when she wants something she expects somebody to drop their pants to answer her question. But when we ask her a question she just ignores it."

He said he'd had to pay rates and insurance on the building because the lessee had not.

Anae has a large property portfolio but said he'd never invest in pubs again. "I don't like the types of people involved. As for the hotel itself, the previous tenants held their own, these ones have struggled."

The hotel would now go on the market. He believed State Highway One location provided plenty of opportunities, but needed people running it with ideas and "marketing nous".

The Oxford Royal, at the top of the hill in Tirau, opened in 1881.

- Herald on Sunday

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