THE landlady of two pubs in the heart of the Basingstoke community said she has no choice but to close them down or face bankruptcy.

Kelley Bowers made the difficult decision to shut the King of Wessex on November 17, after running it for nine years, and she will be closing her other pub, the New Inn, next month.

The 41-year-old mother-of-three, who runs the pubs with her husband Carl, has blamed the brewery Heineken for failing to support her during difficult times.

She said: “It’s the same old story with every pub closing. Half of it is because I have had enough of the industry and want a bit of a normal life now and another part is it’s so hard with high rents. The brewery doesn’t give us any help.”

Kelley said the exterior of the King of Wessex, in King’s Furlong, is in desperate need of an upgrade, but a condition in her contract means the cost of any work is her responsibility.

“There was no movement on the lease even though the industry has changed. We have to relinquish our lease for them to put the money in,” she said, adding: “We have a good relationship with them but it goes back to red tape and what we have signed being set in stone. We are responsible for absolutely everything internally and externally. The price of a pint has gone up lots and we take the flak for that.”

Kelley took over the New Inn, in Sarum Hill, in August 2018 as a favour to Heineken, but said running two pubs was “really hard”, resulting in her working long hours and taking on more stress.

She said customers were sad to see the King of Wessex close, and their final day of trading saw many come to say goodbye.

“It’s a really popular pub,” said Kelley, adding: “The King of Wessex and the New Inn are cornerstones of the community. They are fantastic for that and it’s hard to relay to my customers because it’s upsetting and they are upset about us leaving, but we have to do it for the good of the pub. It’s got to the point where it’s become a big financial burden and it’s either leave or go bankrupt.”

An LGBT night is held at the New Inn every Friday, and Kelley hopes another pub will take this on when it closes, as it has become a popular event.

The mother is now going to spend time with her family over Christmas, before starting an apprenticeship with the NHS in January to re-train as a nurse.

Heineken has been asked to comment.