A LANDLORD fears he may have to close his pub – blaming the recession and high rents for his woes.

Simon Moore, publican of The Chequers in Corn Street, Witney, said his turnover had collapsed from £278,891 in the financial year 2007/8 to £215,476 in 2011/12.

He said if the trend continued his pub would join others in the town – The Butchers Arms, in Corn Street, and The Plough, in Bridge Street – which closed last year.

The Plough has since reopened and Enterprise Inns, which owns The Butchers Arms, said it plans to reopen the pub.

Mr Moore, 37, said: “Anyone can see that Witney town centre on a Friday and Saturday night is not as busy as it used to be.

“There has been a massive drop in people with disposable income to spend. These are hard times.”

Last year, Witney was heralded by CAMRA as unique because it had managed to retain 24 pubs for the past three decades ago.

This was in stark contrast to the picture across Oxfordshire, where 50 pubs had closed in five years.

Mr Moore, known as Sub, claimed the problems had been exacerbated by Enterprise Inns, which owns the pub, charging him “unsustainable” rent. He claimed he is paying £985 a week in commercial rent, domestic rent and charges for cooling the cellar.

Enterprise Inns disputed the figures but refused to give more information.

Mr Moore, who lives above the pub with his partner and their two children said he owes £10,000 in taxes and rates and another £16,000 to Enterprise Inns and the debt could hit £50,000 by the end of his lease in August.

He said: “Currently we are struggling each week to pay for the rent and beer. It is an unviable lease in the current climate.

“If Enterprise decides to send in the bailiffs we would lose our home, our jobs and we would have to be made bankrupt.”

He claimed he had repeatedly asked Enterprise for rent reviews during the past two-and-a-half years but was only told he needed to put the application in writing late last year.

He said: “If it had been reduced to a sustainable level when we first asked we could have avoided the financial situation we are in now.”

An Enterprise Inns spokesman said: “We do not discuss the private and confidential matters between the company and our publicans.

“However it is important to understand that the information you have been given is inaccurate and misleading. We continue to support our publicans during these tough economic times.”