A North Shields pub that was shut by police amid fears of impending violence will be allowed to reopen – but not until 2015.
The One Hundred in North Shields, known locally as The Tun, was closed in the early hours of October 4 after officers said they found underage drinkers, drug users and the manager in a drunken state amid a hostile atmosphere in the tavern.
But despite Northumbria Police’s application to revoke the Church Way boozer’s license, North Tyneside Council is to give the pub one last chance – once it has served a three month license suspension.
“For quite a long time since last December we had a number of concerns about the running of the pub,” neighbourhood inspector Geoff Cross told the authority’s three man Licensing Sub-committee – made up of Killingworth councillor Gary Bell, Longbenton’s Coun. Kevin Conroy and Howdon’s John Hunter.
“In North Shields we run a very effective Pub Watch scheme, but the One Hundred was not part of it. And while we tried to work with, engage with and support the running of the pub, nothing changed – our words fell on deaf ears.”
PC Louise Jackson, a beat officer for North Shields town centre said prior to its reopening in December 2013 “The Tun” had been a “well run pub serving real ales and food to families,” but had since been turned into “a late night, last drink venue.”
“That’s when the problems started,” she said. “It became somewhere that was no longer friendly – not somewhere that a family or couple could go into.
“It took a lot of people who had caused problems in other bars, because it was not participating in Pub Watch – The were attracted to the One Hundred because they were allowed in – and then it was those people who were becoming involved in disorder.”
The committee heard that there had been 19 reported incidents and crimes ranging from theft of a mobile phone to assaults and wounding with intent, while a police van containing a sergeant and up to six officers was often parked outside the pub on a Friday and Saturday night in anticipation of trouble.
But solicitor Richard Taylor said the pub company had no idea of the problems, as until the end of September officers had not contacted their area management or head office.
On the night the pub was shut down acting inspector Rebecca Felton arrived just after midnight to find a group of men leaving the pub in “a volatile manner,” with shouting and one individual punching the boot of a car.
In a statement submitted to the committee she said speaking to door staff she was told the mood in the pub was “bad” and that “it felt like it would ‘go off’.”
Inside the pub the level of noise was “overwhelming,” she said, with a number of people “who looked obviously underage and under the influence of alcohol” and a group of men “acting furtively and ‘gurning’ – their actions and eye dilation suggesting clear drug use.”
Finding the manager Karl Briggs in the DJ booth, acting inspector Felton said he refused to accept his patrons would be involved in “impending violence” – though “his eyes were glazed, his speech slurred, he was unsteady on his feet and he smelt of intoxicating liquor.”
With the mood in the pub “hostile and unpredictable” and the possibility of disorder spilling out onto the streets a closure notice was issued.
However, despite the long running problems, solicitor Richard Taylor – acting on behalf of Enterprise Inns, which holds the premises licence for North Shields pub The Tun – said until just over a fortnight ago the firm had no idea there was an issue, though the company was already in the process of replacing its tenant for the second time in only nine months.
“Until September 30, when police told us there was a problem and we needed to sit down and talk Enterprise didn’t know, as it relied on tenants to tell them,” he said.
Area manager Cliff Ward said he had checked on the pub “at least once a month” but as the tenants were self employed they had “kept problems to themselves.”
“As landlords we find out late when tenants don’t pay their rates or their bills – five years ago the One Hundred had its electricity cut off – or if there is a problem,” he said.
Mr Ward said he had already decided that the pub was not working out under the tenure of its most recent tenant and had agreed in mid-September for landlord Terry Mellor, who runs the Half Moon Inn at Stakeford, to take over on October 6, in an effort to return it to “the pub it had been before.”
“I’ll give it my best shot to make it a family friendly place,” Mr Mellor told the committee.
The committee rejected the calls to revoke the pub’s licence, instead suspending it for three months, reducing it’s hours of opening to 11am to 11pm – and 1am on a Friday and Saturday – and imposing conditions that it must install CCTV, remove the DJ booth, keep all doors and windows closed when music is played, keep an incident log, introduce a challenge 25 scheme, join Pub Watch and train all staff to prevent underage drinking and drunken disorder.
Enterprise Inns was also told it must send an area manager to the pub at least once a week for three months to check the incident book, and at least once a month thereafter.