A COUPLE are leaving a pub because they said there were too many bars competing with them.

Darwen publicans Zoe and Martin Evans, who have run The Crown in Redearth Road for five years, will be leaving in three weeks.

The decision to quit 12 months before their tenancy expires has been described as a ‘difficult one'.

The owners announced the news on the pub’s Facebook page and said: “With a significant increase in the number of bars and consequent downturn in custom we feel we are unable to continue to trade under considerably difficult financial times.”

Licensee Mrs Evans, who has spent eight years in the pub trade, said: “We have thought about making this decision for the last 12 months and wanted to see if the trade could pick up but it has not. We can’t keep running a pub on goodwill as much as we love the place.”

The 43-year-old has criticised Blackburn with Darwen Council following the influx of bars in the area.

Mrs Evans said: “There are far too many venues in this small town. Our footfall has dropped significantly and makes overheads – council tax, business rates, gas and electric – quite high.

“Blackburn with Darwen Council has not helped us when they continue to allow smaller venues to open up in the town.”

The council’s regeneration boss, Cllr Phil Riley, dismissed the criticism and said: “Competition is not a reason for denying planning applications.”

MP Jake Berry, who named The Crown as the local representative from Rossendale and Darwen to enter the Parliamentary Pub of the Year in July 2018, said it was sad to see Mr and Mrs Evans move on.

The pubs minister said: “I’m very sorry to see these well known and loved publicans leave the town and I hope whoever comes in next will continue to build its brilliant reputation.”

The pub’s operator, Punch Taverns, said discussions were in place to find a new landlord to take over but it remained uncertain whether one will be found by February 4.

A spokesman for Punch Taverns said: “We are currently in discussions with a new publican to take over the Crown Hotel, however this is yet to be finalised.

“We are bound by confidentiality to discuss with a third party the details of these conversations but we are hoping to have the Crown Hotel opened as soon as possible.’

A final drinks and farewell to Mr and Mrs Evans will take place on Sunday, February 3 from noon until late.