A landlord under fire for turfing out tenants from a pub said he only did so because they owed him £28, 000 in rent.
Around 700 people have signed a petition in protest at the closure of The Three Tuns in Dronfield, near Sheffield, on Monday which was named the Campaign for Real Ale's Derbyshire Pub of the year in 2013.
The managers of the pub, who have been in place for over six years, said they were 'absolutely devastated' after receiving an eviction notice.
But documents obtained by The Star reveal Chesterfield County Court ordered The Three Tuns Dronfield Ltd to pay site landlords Abdul Khayere and Lufta Begum £28, 000 in 'rent arrears' following a hearing on October 17.
Mr Khayere said: "I know this has caused a lot of concern and there has been a lot of press about it but I had no choice. We had to do something because of the amount of money owed."
Mr Khayere, who has run the Ayesha's Indian restaurant in Dronfield since 1990, said he bought the pub site nearly 10 years ago.
He added he now plans to move the restaurant from its current site in Chesterfield Road into The Three Tuns site in Cemetery Road.
He said: “We need to make improvements to the inside and out to get the building ready to become a restaurant.
“We are also planning an extension and to brighten the place up inside. It will be a fantastic addition for the community.”
Responding to criticism that residents would prefer a pub at the site over an Indian restaurant, he said there are several other pubs in and around Dronfield to satisfy demand.
He plans to submit a planning application for the redevelopment in the New Year and hopes to have the new Ayesha's restaurant ready to open by late 2018 or early 2019.
We contacted the former managers of The Three Tuns for comment but they have not yet replied. It is understood that they have since moved to a new site.