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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

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Workington pub closed down

A Workington pub has been closed down because of fears that serious crime and disorder there could lead to a death.

The Apple Tree, on Finkle Street, had its licence revoked today  by Allerdale council after complaints from police.

A two-day review heard that since landlady Anita Gilpin took over a year ago there had been numerous issues and incidents at the pub, including two cases of serious injury.

In one instance a man was punched, kicked and stamped on, officers said, and another involved a man’s head going through a window.

Mrs Gilpin intends to appeal the licensing panel’s decision but said if that failed she could face bankruptcy.

She added that she had taken on the pub to work to fund her 11-year-old daughter through university when the time came but now she could lose her home.

The licensing review heard evidence from Sgt Richard Farnworth and PC Lorraine Murphy that officers had been called to numerous incidents over the last year and there were other licensing issues such as CCTV footage not being retained for the required 28 days and people who employed door staff not having the correct licences.

Mrs Gilpin and her solicitor Paul Nicholson said, however, that there had been very few incidents of actual crime or disorder directly linked to the pub and the CCTV storage issue had been due to a technical fault.

The required licences were now in place in relation to door staff.

Mr Nicholson said there had been no incidents there throughout the busy Christmas period.

But anonymous statements from three people living or working nearby described the venue as “hell on earth”, with customers congregating by the front door, smoking, swearing and spitting.

They said the pub caused a noise disturbance and one said they had seen a couple having sex against the back gates.

Mrs Gilpin said customers were asked to smoke at the rear of the pub.
Stephen Carini, whose security firm provided the pub’s bouncers, said noise from karaoke and other entertainment was kept at the front of the building and there was minimal disturbance.

He said there had only been three incidents of disorder at the pub when his staff had been working there and they had all been recorded on appropriate forms.

He and Mrs Gilpin also raised concerns that police had refused to allow the pub to have a radio which would have allowed it to communicate with officers and other pubs in the town and could have given early warning of potential trouble in the area.

The panel was given a host of letters of support which were written to the pub by customers, staff and nearby residents and traders.

It also heard that the woman who had been working when one of the serious incidents happened and had been cautioned for allowing disorderly behaviour, Lesley Scott, had felt so bad about it that she had tried to commit suicide.

Mrs Gilpin told the hearing she had bought the pub for her niece Michelle Park to run and Miss Park had been designated premises supervisor.

She said she sacked her niece in August.

When Miss Park contacted Allerdale council to resign the position, she stated she was stepping down because of the conduct of Mrs Gilpin and customers.

Mrs Gilpin later ended up taking on the role while she tried to appoint a suitable manager.

She told the hearing she was in poor health, had never intend to run the pub herself and could not do the job.

She accepted that there had been failings in her management and offered to step down and appoint Trevor Pepper, who runs Boxer Security, as licensee and premises supervisor.

Mr Pepper said he believed the pub could operate successfully with improvements including better management, more CCTV and the introduction of clear procedures for staff.

Mr Nicholson said: “We are not asking for the pub to reopen today.

“We are asking for the opportunity to put in a proper management structure so the pub can reopen in the future with the support of the police.

“The closure of the pub doesn‘t address the problem because it can be opened again in any point in time and the customers can go somewhere else.”

Sgt Farnworth, however, said: “We have shown beyond any doubt the serious crime and disorder is a constituent part of the regular licensable activity at the Apple Tree.

“We seriously believe that if this premises is allowed to reopen there’s a serious likelihood of fatality in the future.

“Our submission is that the only option is revocation of the licence.”

The panel deliberated for more than an hour before reaching its decision.

Employees of the pub, who had attended with regulars to support Mrs Gilpin, wept as chairman Peter Bales announced that the pub would remain closed.

The pub has been shut since March when its licence was suspended at a summary review.

Mrs Gilpin, who used to run The Globe at Dearham, has 21 days to appeal.

After the hearing she said she was disgusted by the decision as her pub was no worse for disorder, and in some cases better, than other venues in the town.

She added: “There aren’t words. I’m devastated. I have worked all my life for everything and now it’s lost.”

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