Publican speaks out after claims of $55k debt bill
A FORMER publican of a Home Hill watering hole has spoken out and denied claims he had skipped town owing $60,800 to 55 creditors.
Andrew Wyeth, a third-generation publican, operated the Commercial Hotel at Home Hill south of Ayr since last year, using his company WJ Hospitality.
The hotel is owned by ex-serviceman Craig McGrath.
Mr Wyeth, who had joined the local chamber of commerce and had previously spoken of plans to reinvigorate the hotel, said in a space of 10 minutes he had lost everything when he closed the doors of the pub on March 23, aligning with COVID-19 restrictions.
"Like all businesses we were in debt prior to coronavirus, like all businesses we carried an amount of debt which you can service because you have the revenue coming in," he said.
"We could have stayed open for longer and kept on accruing that debt.
"We decided with insolvency rules being relaxed it would be quite unconscionable to keep on going backwards …
"It wouldn't have been $60,000 it would have been over $100,000.
"The right thing to do for us was to close the business, wind everything up and sit back and lick our wounds, so to speak."
Mr Wyeth said prior to coronavirus he had projected that by the end of the district's sugar-crushing season, "we would have turned things around".
The hospitality company was put into liquidation in June owing $60,800 to 55 creditors, a liquidator's report on the company has revealed.
Mr McGrath said the former manager suddenly left Home Hill about three months ago. But Mr Wyeth says he still resides in the district.
"The (hotel) is falling apart. We had water come through the bar and this affected the trade, we had an aircon that he wouldn't get fixed. That affected trade," Mr Wyeth said.
WJ Hospitality was put under the control of liquidator Michael Caspaney of Menzies Advisory.
Mr Caspaney said Mr Wyeth, the company's sole director, was assisting his investigations.
"He's required to do that and so far he's providing everything that we need," Mr Caspaney said.
A statutory report will be handed to creditors within three months.
The Commercial Hotel's 32-room accommodation is booked out until March next year, but Mr McGrath is waiting for tourists to come from down south before he reopens the pub.
"If the borders are open I've got another 5000 cars going past me, the highway is dead right now," he said.
Originally published as Publican speaks out after claims of $55K debt bill