Two city centre pubs are set to be sold by the city council as it works to balance its books. The authority has approved decisions to make the freehold of The Navigation Inn, in Wilford Street at Castle Lock, and The Hole in The Wall, in North Sherwood Street, available for sale.
Both operate under the umbrella of Admiral Taverns, which has 1,600 pubs across the UK. A spokesperson from Admiral Taverns said: "Nottingham City Council has made us aware that it will be putting the freehold for The Hole in the Wall and The Navigation Inn, Nottingham, to auction, but this will not affect our current long leasehold interests and tenancies, nor will pub trading be affected in any way.”
The co-owner of The Navigation, Jeanette Hill, moved to reassure customers that the pub is still trading. She said: "It's led customers to believe that the pub is being sold or closed down and the situation is at the moment is that it's not, it's a pub base that we are working on and it's going up trade wise.
"The pub is still trading as normal and it will not affect The Navigation at all for a minimum of 15 years as that's how long the lease is." It comes at a time when the city council continues to work to avoid Government intervention in the form of commissioners. Reviewing all council-owned assets was one of the key priorities of the latest Together for Nottingham Plan, set out last year.
The plan was drawn up to to address the "seriousness of the financial, governance and operational challenges" faced by the council in the wake of problems including the collapse of Robin Hood Energy. The city council said last year that it had managed to reduce its £1.2 billion debt by £200 million and that it hoped to raise more than £93 million from the sale of its assets.
A City Council spokesperson said: “Like many councils, we hold the freehold interest in various properties which means we aren’t involved in any operations on the sites but they bring in a regular rental income to the council. Some, like these, date back many years and as we are reviewing our property portfolio as part of our Together for Nottingham Plan, it’s been decided these properties are not providing the level of return we are looking for.
"We are therefore proposing to put the freehold of the sites up for sale at auction. Selling property and land that we own and no longer require is one of the ways we can bring money into the council at a time when our Government grant is drastically reduced, as well as helping us to reduce debt levels as part of our efforts to improve and become more efficient.
“As landowner, we’re aware that the Hole in the Wall pub is included on the register of Assets of Community Value and will ensure that all related requirements in respect of a sale are fully complied with.”
The council has just avoided commissioners being sent in as Government oversight continues on the improvements being made after issues including the misspend of £40 million and the aforementioned collapse of Robin Hood Energy.
An Improvement and Assurance Board (IAB) was appointed in January 2021 to closely monitor the decision-making processes and governance of Nottingham City Council, sending quarterly reports to the Government on the council's progress. The Government uses the quarterly reports to determine whether it needs to send commissioners in to run the council.
The Government said in its most recent decision that there had been a "step up in progress" at Nottingham City Council. But it added: "There is still much to do to deliver the level of service deserved by the residents of Nottingham."
Although noting several improvements, the Government has said it will still consider whether the appointment of commissioners will be necessary when the IAB's next report is delivered by Sir Tony Redmond, who has been chairing the board.
The Hole in the Wall reopened last year, to the delight of locals. It was given a repaint as part of improvements carried out.