Gunner pub blames bulldozed homes as bar shuts

Gunner landlady Maria McGovern. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Gunner landlady Maria McGovern. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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TELEVISION stars and footballers propped up its bar after it achieved notoriety at the hand of one of Scotland’s greatest authors.

But now The Gunner in Pennywell Road – which once served the likes of Jonathan Ross and former Hibs players Anthony Stokes and Derek Riordan – has closed.

Heartbroken landlady Maria McGovern, 52, claimed she had tried “everything” to keep the pub – a haunt of characters in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting – open and blamed the loss of hundreds of homes bulldozed in the regeneration of Muirhouse. Maria, who has run the pub for nine years with partner John Burrell, added: “I’m all for regeneration – but at what cost? It could have been saved and it could have worked if they hadn’t knocked those houses down in one go.

“They have ripped the heart out of the community.

“They knocked 950 houses down in the area between 2008 and 2010. That’s 950 potential customers gone. There has been no support for local businesses.”

John, 56, said the pub had lost more than £1 million in the past four years, forcing them to plough their own money into the business just to keep it running.

Customers have been left devastated by the news, with shocked punters turning up to find signs reading ‘Closed until further notice’.

Maria said: “I have had customers at the door crying in my arms.

“There is one guy who has drank in here for 47 years, and I had to watch him standing outside reading the [closure] notice.

“Those are the ones I care about. What are they going to do?”

Maria also pointed to a lack of funding from leaseholder Punch Taverns, which claims it is “impossible” to commit to investment in the pub.

A Punch Taverns spokesman said: “We can confirm that our licensee at The Gunner has made the decision to leave as she no longer feels the business is viable for her.

“The area and demographics around The Gunner has changed. With that level of uncertainty as to the future, it makes it impossible for us to commit to invest in the pub with any surety.”

More than £40m is being pumped into the area as the council builds 700 new homes.

And there may be a late reprieve for the pub, with ward councillor Steve Cardownie seeking to broker a deal to save it at a meeting tomorrow with city chief executive Sue Bruce.

He wants to see the city become “sympathetic” landlords to the licensees, adding: “When the council took away all those houses it reduced their customer base and they have not been recompensed in any way by the council.”