Related coverage: Picton pub dealt significant insurance blow
Locals, community leaders and business owners were saddened to learn Picton’s most iconic establishment, the George IV Inn, would be closed indefinitely.
The George has been shut for more than six months following a storm in June last year flooded and devastated the town.
The owner Patrick Maloney said the insurance company, Assestinsure, had denied the claim and he had been forced to lay off staff.
Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell is calling on the insurance company to review its decision and labelled the rejection of the claim as “unacceptable”.
“I really feel terrible for the people who own the building, for the people who run the business and for the people who work there,” Mr Rowell said.
“We know the storm and all the water devastated all the businesses in the main street and surrounding streets of Picton, including the George.
“Why the insurance company has decided to single out this business is beyond me.
“I’ll be letting them know this is completely unacceptable and I will be standing side by side with owners of the George supporting them to see what we can do to get them back on their feet.”
Mr Rowell said he would speak to the Insurance Council of Australia to express his anger and to see what could be done.
Wollondilly mayor Judith Hannan said she was saddened to learn the George would not be looking at re-opening any time soon and hoped the owners could sort out the issue with the insurance company.
“The council has had several meetings with the owners of the George throughout the past six months,” she said.
“I have asked council staff to set up a meeting between myself and the owners as soon as possible to get the facts.”
The George manager Peta Cohen said the insurance company’s backflip came as a “real shock”.
“Brett and I thought our jobs were secure and we were planning our future but now we don’t have jobs,” she said. “The decision has been a kick in the guts.
“I am devastated the George has been closed for six months and this decision is sad for the town and the local economy.
“The George had flow on affects for the town because people would come to the pub then visit other shops.”
Picton business owner of R Coffee Co Ryan Tierney said the George was the most iconic building in Picton.
“When you describe Picton to someone, you say, ‘it is where the George is’,” he said.
“I feel bad for the owners and I hope they get it sorted.
“The closure has affected the town and businesses and there are a lot less bikies coming through Picton.”
Mrs Cohen said it was still early days and she was unsure what the owner, Patrick Maloney, would do to fight the insurance company.
“Pat wants to fight but it will take time and resources,” she said.
Mrs Cohen and her husband and licencee Brett Cohen as well as two other full time staff were laid off.
“The casual staff had to move on and it is a shame the George won’t be employing any more young people.”
Councillor Matt Gould has also urged the insurance company to reconsider its decision and has vowed to do everything he can to make sure the George is re-opened as soon as possible.
“The George is in many ways the heart and soul of Picton and is a massive tourist draw card that not only benefits Picton but the shire as a whole,” he said.
Councillor Simon Landow, who was mayor during the storm, said it was “shame” to hear about the George’s situation.
“This was one of the icons of Wollondilly,” he said. “A huge tourism asset. The fight is on for these guys and I know all of the Dilly is right behind the George.”
Locals have taken to the Wollondilly Advertiser Facebook page to voice their disappointment.
Lisa McKay said: “This is a huge blow to these business owners, the community and all the people who travelled to Picton for The George. It is the heart of the area, as was The Imperial.
“How much money would it take to get running again? Maybe we need to band together as a community and put some money behind this iconic establishment. Picton is not the same without it.”
Lisa Owen agreed: “Picton is just not the same without the George (or the [Imperial], for that matter) and it's so sad to drive past and see its doors still closed. I hope this can be turned around and we can have our iconic pub back up and running.”
Assestinsure was contacted and a spokeswoman said the insurance company did not make comment on individual claims.
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