Popular licensee is back but pub’s days could be numbered

BACK AT THE HELM -- Tony Skelding at the Malt Shovel in Hucknall

BACK AT THE HELM -- Tony Skelding at the Malt Shovel in Hucknall

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POPULAR licensee Tony Skelding is back in charge at the Malt Shovel pub on Hucknall’s Annesley Road. But he’s not too sure what he’s let himself in for!

Not only is the pub trade shrouded in uncertainty at present because of changing lifestyles and the economic downturn.

But also Tony (41) does not know for how long he will be back because the ‘local’ has been put up for sale by owner Punch Taverns.

Tony previously ran the one-time busy pub until last September when it was taken over by Katie and David Coxon, just three weeks after they were married at Hucknall Parish Church.

The couple moved there amid rumours, which were denied, that the ‘Shovel was to be turned into an Indian restaurant.

They said this suggestion had been put on the back-burner and may not materialise at all.

Now Tony has told the Dispatch he accepted the offer of his old job after Mr and Mrs Coxon decided to pull out altogether. The pub was closed for three weeks over the Christmas and New Year holiday, meaning many local families in the Barbara Square area of Hucknall missed out on their annual celebrations there.

Tony fears that the Malt Shovel’s days could be numbered. He points out that pubs are closing “right, left and centre”.

“When the Malt Shovel is sold, there is a strong possibility that the building could be demolished and the site used for new homes,” he said.

“Losing the Malt Shovel would be a great shame because it is the only pub in this part of Hucknall.”

Tony said regulars had now started coming back to the Malt Shovel and he was building the food side of the business back up again.

He thought the Indian restaurant idea was most likely dead and buried because of plans for a high-profile one to open in Hucknall town centre.

No-one was available to comment for Punch Taverns.