A Great Harwood pub is on the hunt for a new tenant as the current publican steps down after 10 months.

Mark Birtwistle, who took over the management of The Cross Axes last August, is set to leave on June 9. He says lack of support from pub company Stonegate, which owns the pub, is a contributing factor towards the decision.

In a statement, he said: “Sadly, due to lack of support from the landlord and substantial losses it’s no longer viable to keep this town centre iconic pub open.

“We have had multiple conversations with the landlord explaining what our thoughts are for the pub to be a viable option to trade in the future. To conclude we are no wiser on when the pub will reopen following our departure.”

Stonegate said there are “no plans to close the pub” and is looking for a tenant to take over.

Mark said the pub has “deteriorated over time” adding that the upstairs space is unliveable.

He said: “The building has deteriorated over time. The upstairs rooms are in poor condition.

“The rent is so high but you can’t live in the premises.

“We have had constant problems with the building, including leaks in the toilet. [Some customers] don't have respect for the pub, punching holes in the walls and blocking female toilets.

“We have employed quite a few people in the building and we have invested in it, giving it a new courtyard but there is no trade here.”

Mark, who also manages Maxx – TJ’s nightclub and Mellows Lounge Bar in the town, said falling profits have been exacerbated by the town’s evolving drinking culture.

He said: “I have lived here for 53 years and know the pub and drinking culture in the town has changed.

“The rent is so high and you can’t live in the premises.

“We have always put entertainment on which has cost us a small fortune. There used to be a lot of popular pubs in the town centre but many have closed.

“My health and family are more important than any business.”

Mark is now urging Stonegate to make changes in order to help the site thrive.

He said: “"If it stands any chance of surviving it needs to refurbish upstairs and make it a managed pub instead of a tenanted pub [as they have more control on prices and overheads].

“We hope the brewery will listen to the multiple meetings we have had. We hope they can put an experienced person in there that won’t have the overheads we have had – it’s the only way we think it can survive.”

The previous tenants, John Mainland and Toni Ennew, had been at the helm of the pub for 18 years and said there were several reasons for their departure including the cost of living crisis and family obligations.

John said rising energy bills were a key factor in their decision to leave the Stonegate pub, with utilities increasing by 400 per cent.

A spokesperson for Stonegate stated, "The Cross Axes in Great Harwood is still open and serving the local community, although currently with reduced hours as the current publican prepares to leave in June.

"There are no plans to close the pub, and we are currently recruiting for a new publican. Stonegate Group offer a range of support packages for tenants looking to run their own pub, and any interested individuals can find more information on our pub partners website. "