Carnforth landlord slams bosses as 'morally bankrupt' in open letter

A petition has been launched to help save a community pub landlord's job after he said he was being sacked without reason.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 12:30 pm
The Canal Turn in Carnforth.
The Canal Turn in Carnforth.

Local radio personality and event host Danny Matthews launched the petition here after hearing how landlord Bill Johnston said he had been treated.

In an open letter to Punch Pubs & Co, who run The Canal Turn, Mr Johnston accused Punch Pubs of being “bankrupt of business ethics and morals.”

The letter, addressed to Punch Pubs CEO Clive Chesser, says Mr Johnston has met all contractual obligations under his current tenure but their senior management had decided to fire him.

Bill Johnston behnd the bar of The Canal Turn in Carnforth.

“This has unimaginable consequences for the company and me personally,” Mr Johnston said. “I have done everything asked of me, and more, and [their] site has had huge value added, both monetary and reputational.”

Mr Johnston was previously a regular in the Carnforth pub and says he’d seen the general deterioration of the pub.

“I quickly made major improvements to the site, together with significant investment and implemented most of the ideas within the business plan, together with all of the community engagement initiatives that have become famous locally and now a key part of the fabric of local people’s lives,” he said.

“In 2019 we were awarded ‘Regional Publican of the Year’. Soon after came national recognition at the Great British Pub Awards, shortlisted for ‘Best Local’ and ‘Best for Entertainment.”

The Canal Turn in Carnforth.

“Punch are now trying to screw me and have served three months’ notice to leave.”

“Punch look bankrupt of all business ethics and morals. It is truly shocking.”

In his petition, Danny said: "We’re asking Clive Chesser (CEO at Punch Pubs & Co) to behave fairly, fulfil the current term and negotiate a new fair tenancy agreement with The Canal Turn, Carnforth.

"The Canal Turn’s current five-year tenancy agreement expires in May 2023. Punch Pubs have served the current landlord with three months’ notice, despite being up to date with all rent payments and other obligations.

Inside The Canal Turn in Carnforth.

"We’re calling on Punch to behave fairly and allow the current team to continue with the amazing work they have done with the pub.

"The Canal Turn is a huge asset to the Carnforth community, staging numerous events and charity initiatives.

"Local regulars of the pub are furious with the way Punch Pubs are behaving and we wish the current team to stay in place.

"They have worked hard through Covid, and everything else, and deserve better than this unfair treatment.

Inside The Canal Turn in Carnforth.

"Keep the current management in place and give them a new, fair and viable agreement moving forward. The pub will not be supported if their hard work and reputation is gone."

Punch Pubs chief operating officer Andy Spencer said: “We are aware of the situation at The Canal Turn and are respectful of the local community concerns. The Canal Turn remains an integral part of the Punch Pubs portfolio, and we are in dialogue with our publican Bill in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution.”