Richard Caborn has slammed Marston’s brewery for allegedly demanding immediate payment of a £25,000 debt, claiming it could force a Sheffield community club to close.
The former Sheffield MP, who is president of Sheffield Trades and Labour Club on Duke Street, says the legal demand tears up a previous agreement to pay the money over five years.
And he claims the brewery has placed an 11 per cent interest charge on the outstanding sum – when the base rate is 0.25 per cent.
The club is determined to stay open and has spent £3,000 on a solicitor and barrister to fight the action, he adds.
The row blew up after members bought the club from the brewery for £90,000 in 2014, ending a 30-year purchasing tie. Mr Caborn says the brewery then demanded payment of the debt.
In a letter to Marston’s chairman Roger Devlin he says, ‘Members of the Trades and Labour Club in Sheffield want to express their concern the action could force the closure of the club which has been serving its community for more than 30 years.
“The court order demanding immediate payment of an outstanding trading debt issued by your brewery was received on the same day as the senior citizens’ Christmas dinner and two days before the children’s Christmas party.
“This action seems to be in contradiction to Marston’s mission statement: ‘We have a proud legacy of our pubs and breweries being an intrinsic part of their local communities’.”
The old deal – which Mr Caborn says was agreed with a regional manager – was to clear the debt by buying about 140 barrels-a-year from the brewery with a £200 supplement on each purchase.
He added: “Even with this totally unfair and disproportionate action we are determined to keep our club open for its members and the community.
“Our first step is to have paid £3,000 to engage a solicitor and barrister to strongly defend our club in the courts.”
A spokesman for Marston’s said: “We have worked constantly with the club over a long period of time without satisfactory resolution.
“This is now being progressed through legal options and as such we cannot comment any further.”