THE landlord of York's smallest pub says he is concerned about its future following planned management change.

John Pybus has run The Blue Bell in Fossgate for the last three years, and the tiny pub is as well-known for its policy of not allowing in groups as for its cask ales and ambience.

However, owners Punch Taverns have advertised the Grade II listed pub on their website with the intention of bringing in a manager - rather than a landlord - which Mr Pybus said could lead to changes in how the pub is run.

But a spokeswoman for Punch said they are keen to maintain the character and ambience of The Blue Bell.

Mr Pybus said: “That person will have much less concern over business than a landlord, as they are employees working for the company. I pay them rent every year and other than that, it’s up to me what we do. 

“Owning The Blue Bell was my life’s dream, and it’s very upsetting from that perspective that I have lost everything I’ve worked so hard for. 

“But I’m relatively young, there will be other pubs and my biggest fear right now is what will happen to my loyal regulars after I leave. 

“Will they be treated the same by the new manager, will the pub keep its ambience, beer selection, house rules? 

“That’s really important. That’s the most important thing for me now, and I’m really worried about the local community and if they will have anywhere to go and socialise in the way they do now.”

A spokeswoman for Punch said: “Our intention is for The Blue Bell to operate under our retail contract moving forward and so we have decided not to offer a renewal of the existing agreement.

“We recognise the importance of the character and ambience of The Blue Bell and any investment will be sympathetic to retaining these qualities.

“We have decided not to renew the tenancy agreement with the existing publican and our intention is for the site to operate under our retail contract moving forwards.”

Mr Pybus said he was disappointed with the decision by Punch, and he would not be interested in running it as a manager, rather than a landlord.

He said: “The reason I’m worried about the change is because landlords have a 10 or 20 year plan of staying long-term, so when on a Saturday afternoon with 20 people outside on a stag do wanting to come in and spend £100 the landlord isn’t worried about that, because it is more about the long term business.

"A manager could take the short term cash and ruin drinking for the people who have been drinking in here for decades. 

“Our longest serving regular has been drinking in here for 53 years.”