A LANDLORD is facing court action if he refuses to take down signs that he claims have been branded as “garish”.

Will Marsh and his family took over The George Inn, in Middle Wallop, six months ago and say since then have worked hard to strengthen the reputation of the establishment.

But two months ago, troubles began after Mr Marsh put up signs on fencing around the pub to advertise the business to passing trade.

Will said: “It was a failing pub, just a dump, we moved into the village and we didn’t have a good pub and it was never open.”

However, the 29-year-old was told by Test Valley Borough Council’s (TVBC) planning officer that only one complaint had been made about the signs and action would proceed.

Will said that the council has also refused to allow him to apply for retrospective planning permission and instead is ordering him to remove them.

“The officer said ‘our planners have categorically refused that you are going to have it, no retrospective application, you are going to have to take it down’. I said I am not going to take them down.

“Country pubs are failing everywhere you go, so why do we pay rates and council tax? It is alright for them [the council] to keep taking money but if we can’t get anyone in the door then we can’t pay. They are just not on our side whatsoever.”

He added: “We can’t please everyone but its just one person out of the hundreds that come through the door.”

The family has reported since the signs were installed their sales have increased by 30 per cent.

“Without the signs at the front of the pub there is nothing that draws you in, as there is not a lot going on whatsoever. When we first opened we were lucky to do 15 meals a day but now we do around 70 some days. We have now got customers coming from Stockbridge and Broughton.”

The pub has also got the backing of the parish council which has been supportive since the family took over.

Will is now working with the council in hopes that he can either keep the signs as they are or reduce them.

A TVBC spokesman said: “Test Valley Borough Council always welcomes the opportunity to work with businesses to agree appropriate signage and promotions.

“On this occasion, there is no consent for the signage and the signs breach the advertisement regulations. With this in mind, and taking into account the impact of the signs on the appearance of the property and surrounding area, the council has requested for the signs to be removed.

“The council has no objection to sympathetic advertising of a business, and we would encourage businesses to check with the council before erecting signage to ensure it is appropriate and authorised. Legal action is always the last resort, but the council will seek take appropriate action if necessary.”