A LANDLORD of almost 50 years has been forced to close his pub following a huge rise in bill costs.

Last September, Stephen Hey, 75, who has been running The Wickham Arms Hotel in Cleckheaton for 33 years, hit the headlines after saying he would have to charge customers £16 a pint to combat the spike in the cost of his electricity.

With the cost of living crisis hitting businesses up and down the country, Mr Hey feared for his livelihood when bills rose from £10,000 to almost £50,000 a year.

Unfortunately, the rise in costs proved to be too much in the end, and the pub shut for good on Boxing Day.

Mr Hey said many tears were shed on that final day earlier this week.

He said: "It was surprising how many people wanted to help us at that time (following the Telegraph & Argus story).

"We had momentum but once the initial shock of what people were being charged and the Government did nothing about it, I am afraid it was too much for us.

"We went from £800 a month to £4,200 a month which proved to be quite tricky.

"The date for shutting was Christmas Eve then a couple of people helped us out until Boxing Day but that was it.

"We are devastated. A lot of our regular customers were in tears."

Last year, Mr Hey predicted the closure would happen.

At the time, he said: "By next year, the costs may come down but it will be too late.

"Local pubs can simply not compete with the Wetherspoons and Lloyds. It will soon be a monopoly."

"It was all down to that large bill," added Mr Hey following the closure.

"The problem was you had to make that £40,000 more in profit a year in a falling market which is very difficult.

"I don't know what the future is going to bring now, and at 75 years old it does make you a little bit nervous."

On Christmas Eve, a post on The Wickham Arms Hotel Facebook page read: "Merry Christmas Everyone.

"Please come and join us for our final day of opening on Boxing Day.

"Our last day of trading was going to be today (Christmas Eve), however we have extended this to December 26.

"It would be good to see you for a final farewell drink. Kay and Steve."