Lack of footfall caused ‘heartbreaking’ closure of Northampton pub

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A Northampton pub has closed its doors after being hit by a combination of the smoking ban, high brewery rates and low footfall.

Melanie Clare said she and husband David could not continue to run the King Billy, in Green End, Kingsthorpe Village ‘for nothing’.

The couple reluctantly called last orders for the final time on Sunday night, eight-and-a-half years after their names first went above the door.

Mrs Clare said: “We’re all gutted, absolutely, but we just weren’t making any money.

“From October especially, it’s just got harder and harder.

“Overall, its a lack of footfall that has done it, but there are a few things that don’t help that.

“The rates from the brewery don’t help. The trade is down but your bills just stay the same.”

Factors contributing to the closure included the slow pay-off from the smoking ban, which has encouraged many to drink at home.

And the closure of other pubs in the area has led to the number of darts and other pub sport fixtures at the King Billy declining.

The summer, with a full beer garden, kept business going, as did the Christmas period. But Dry January saw last month ‘completely dead’, with only a small rebound so far in February forcing their decision.

Five members of staff will lose their jobs as a result.

The couple could have chosen to keep the King Billy open until their notice expires, but felt unable to.

Mrs Clare said: “We’ve got a few weeks notice’ to run but I just couldn’t serve any more pints [knowing we are closing].

“People are saying ‘sorry to hear the news’ all the time, which is really nice but it makes you sad.

“I was like a confidante to some and the customers are like an extended family.

“The younger customers, ones you’d normally expect to be out in town, are really great kids.

“It really has broken my heart.”

Mrs Clare said the couple will continue to live in the village and enjoy time as a family. She will also continue her role on the village fete committee.

She said she will take with her many treasured memories.

“We’re a loopy pub; fancy dress, big parties. You name it, we did it.

“I’d like to thank my customers for their support over the years.”