LEWISHAM'S only gay pub Two8Six has been closed after the building's new owner sent in bailiffs and changed the locks.

The Lewisham High Street venue, a gay pub since the 1960s, is just the latest of the borough's boozers to be faced with closure.

Publican Steve Thompson said problems started when Isle of Man-based company Mendoza and managers Golfrate, took over ownership in June from Admiral Taverns.

He claims they told him to evict his live in staff from the residential floors above the pub so that they could be used as private flats, while demanding outstanding rent.

After a series of negotiations, bailiffs were sent in on October 12, changing the locks and boarding up the building.

Mt Thompson said: "The demands have been unreasonable and the forced closure means it is impossible to pay any outstanding rents.

"Although my solicitor has advised me that they were not entitled to break in and change the locks, without being able to trade I can't afford the thousands of pounds necessary to take them to the High Court and so I may be forced to declare myself bankrupt."

Councillor Liam Curran, who is campaigning to get better protection for Lewisham's boozers, said: "Once again we have another example of a busy pub in Lewisham being closed due to land values.

"It is helping to kill the high street and the fact that this company have forced the closure of Lewisham’s only gay pub is quite insidious. I hope the owner of the company Mendoza will reconsider his position."

A meeting on what can be done to save the pub is being held at 7pm on October 26 at the council's Civic Centre, Catford Road. All are welcome.

Supporters can also write to Golfrate at The Glasshouse, 177-187 Arthur Road, London, SW19 8AE.

A Keep Two8Six Open Facebook group has also been set up.

- News Shopper attempted to contact Golfrate about the closure but was told the person dealing with it was on holiday. When asked who that was, they hung up.