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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Licensee of Cumbrian pub vows to fight closure

The licensee of a pub shut down last month has vowed to fight plans to close it for good.

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Controversy: The Appletree pub on Finkle Street

The Appletree on Finkle Street in Workington had its licence suspended last month by Allerdale Council’s licensing panel.

The police used their emergency powers to call the meeting and want to get the pub closed permanently amid public safety fears.

But Anita Gilpin, 51, licensee and designated premises supervisor for the past year, said: “If they take the licence I will appeal. I have put every penny I have got into this place. There is no way it is a violent pub.

“They [the police] have picked out the two worst incidents and made out it was like that all the time.”

She said she had received letters of support from neighbouring businesses.

The review followed at least three recent assaults which left some victims needing hospital treatment.

But Mrs Gilpin claimed they were all “isolated incidents”, adding that one of the assaults had happened outside after hours and that her own son had been the victim.

Billy Wildgoose, 18, of Lonsdale Street, pleaded guilty at Carlisle Crown Court earlier this year to assault causing actual bodily harm on Paul Gilpin. Wildgoose, who admitted the offence, was sent to a young offenders’ institution for a year.

Meanwhile, customers and staff have leapt to the defence of the pub.

Doorman Stephen Carini said that the police had refused to provide radios to the pub because they did not want customers overhearing what was going on elsewhere in town.

He added: “If we had radios the last two incident wouldn’t have happened.”

Regular Cath Murray, 64, of Walker Road, Salterbeck, said: “It’s a friendly pub with a great atmosphere and I have never seen one bit of trouble. I have never been intimidated. It’s like my second home, I enjoy the crack.”

A police spokesman said: “We are awaiting the full licensing hearing, which is due to be held on a date to be confirmed where Cumbria Constabulary will put forward a full case for the licensing panel review.”

Solicitor Paul Nicholson, who will be representing Mrs Gilpin, said he expected the hearing to be on April 17 or April 19.

Ms Gilpin had 48 hours to appeal against the original suspension order but claims she was not given enough notice to respond.

She said: “I didn’t appeal because only found out about the meeting the night before and couldn’t get a solicitor. I didn’t know what the meeting was about.”

She added that if the panel decide to revoke her licence permanently she will be unable to lease it as a pub.

The suspension had already cost her about £12,000 and came at a particularly bad time in the run up to the Easter bank holiday, she said.

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