PUB bosses could be landed with a £10,000 bill — for repainting the walls.

The owners of The Shakespeare Hotel in Farnworth may have to fork out thousands of pounds to remove paint from historic oak panels because of listed building rules.

Bravo Inns spent thousands of pounds on a refurbishment last June to brighten up the popular pub in Glynne Street.

The firm replaced carpets, the lighting system and seat covers as well as painting some wooden panels on the walls.

During the works, however, a customer attending a funeral reception at the pub complained to Bolton Council about the makeover.

Bolton Council immediately sent an enforcement officer to the pub and ordered workers to halt the refurbishment.

The pub is a grade II listed building, which limits the type of work that can be carried out. The pub’s licensee Peter Coates admitted the brewery did not seek the council’s permission for the work beforehand, though it has now done so retrospectively.

The bone of contention is whether the panels are made of oak and, therefore, were a fixture in the building when it was built in 1926.

Mr Coates said four or five of the panels are made from oak and the brewery is willing to remove the paint, restoring the panels back to how they were.

But he insists the remaining panels are not made of oak and therefore are not subject to rules about listed buildings.

He said: “The pub needed a refurbishment and it looks much better now.

People have said it looks really nice.

“In the six months since we’ve done the work, we’ve had hundreds if not thousands of customers and yet only one person has complained.

“It meant we had to stop the work with one room still to be finished.

“Hopefully, our argument will be good enough for the council, or else it will cost us a minimum of £10,000 to treat the wood with a special chemical and get the paint off.

“That would be a shame.”

The pub’s fine oak panelling has earned it a mention on the Campaign for Real Ale’s website.

It says: “The layout amazingly remains intact and the spaces are fitted out with woodwork of the highest quality, making it one of the finest remaining examples of an interwar suburban pub.”

A spokesman for English Heritage, which campaigns for the preservation of historic buildings, said: “Our normal advice if we are contacted in such cases is to refer the matter to the local planning authority, which has responsibility for deciding on whether or not listed building consent for changes is needed, and if so whether or not it should be allowed.

“We were very concerned to learn of the harmthat has been caused to the wood-panelled interior of the pub and are fully supportive of the action that Bolton Council is taking.”

The council is aiming to reach a decision by March 3.

A spokesman for Bravo Inns said: “There has been a mix up in procedure and a retrospective application will be heard in March. We will comply with what is required of us.”