The celebrated Barge Inn at Honey Street, which won a £430,000 Heritage Lottery grant for its refurbishment, dramatically closed on Monday when staff arriving for work were told they were redundant.
The canal-side Inn, which dates back more than 200 years, was saved from closure by a community buy-out project, which was the subject of a BBC TV documentary film last year, its success was toasted by local MP Claire Perry.
Now it is believed to be facing an unpaid VAT bill running into six figures, which may fall on members of the community project committee.
“What is more worrying is how the lottery provided such a huge grant and how exactly the expenditure of that money was monitored,” said one local resident. “Some questions need to be asked.”