AN ANDOVER publican has said she is “feeling awful” as she is forced to leave her beloved pub after five years in charge.

Vicki Harber, who runs The Queen Charlotte Inn on London Road, has no choice but to leave the pub on November 19 after the pub company made a drastic increase in its rent.

Vicki has found herself tossed out of her premises after the pub owner Stonegate pub company (pubco) increased the rent by 73 per cent (from £34,000 to £59,000 per year).

Having originally been told that her tenancy would be renewed when it expires in November, Vicki was informed in July of the planned price hike, after she had already invested significantly in her business, including buying new decking.

The company claims the hike in rent is to cover necessary refurbishments, but would not include the cost of fixings and fittings.

After taking the difficult decision to leave the pub, Vicki told the Advertiser that it has been heart wrenching.

“I have been here for five and a half years,” she said.

“This pub was a friend to me. It’s heart wrenching and heart-breaking. Similarly, my family is also worried because we don’t know where we will be living in seven weeks’ time, and we are going to be homeless.”

Vicki and family have not decided on moving plans, but they want to live in Andover.

“We are looking at things. There’s nothing confirmed as yet. It takes a lot of time, and I was meant to have six months’ notice,” she added.

Stonegate has put the Queen Charlotte Inn on the market at the new price. But as far as Vicki knows, nobody has taken over it yet, and the pub will be closing down on November 19.

For her, Vicki said, it was a choice between agreeing to pay 73 per cent increase in rent or leaving.

“They have confirmed that they have to do this refurbishment and I have told them I cannot pay the 73 per cent increase in rent.

“So basically, it was ‘pay 73 per cent more, or go’. And they would look someone else for the pub.”

Vicki told the Advertiser that she is worried for her family as she has a college-going daughter.

“If it was just me, 20 years ago, I probably wouldn’t be half as worried about it, but I have a 16-year-old daughter who has just started college, we have a cat. It’s quite important for us all to be in this area and finding something in Andover isn’t easy.”

She added that she has now had no choice but to take on a part-time job 25 minutes away at the The Carpenters Arms pub in Burghclere, to ensure she maintains an income when her tenancy ends.

Cllr Iris Andersen, ward councillor alongside Vicki for Andover St Mary’s where The Queen Charlotte is situated, told the Advertiser that The Queen Charlotte is a “lovely local pub where residents get together” and would be greatly missed by the community.

She praised Vicki for all that she has done to make the pub sit at the heart of the community, including hosting meetings and events, organising quiz and music nights, and offering a varied food menu as well as traditional pub drinks.

“Vicki has worked hard, especially when we had the pandemic. It is a very valued community asset and I wouldn’t want to lose that at all.

“As people are trying to get back out and socialise and talk to people, there has to be some consideration for the community and how people feel.”

Stonegate has been contacted by the Advertiser for comment.