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Pub's 5am bid thrown out

PUBLISHED: 08:38 27 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:34 07 July 2010

A controversial mid-Norfolk pub's bid to extend its weekend opening hours - including remaining open until 5am on Sunday mornings - was thrown out on Wednesday after police told of serious concerns over the number of violent public order incidents in and around the premises and of lack of proper management.

A controversial mid-Norfolk pub's bid to extend its weekend opening hours - including remaining open until 5am on Sunday mornings - was thrown out on Wednesday after police told of serious concerns over the number of violent public order incidents in and around the premises and of lack of proper management.

Joanne Cross, licence holder of the Plough and Furrow in Quebec Street in the centre of Dereham, wanted to extend the present hours so it can remain open until 5am on Friday and Saturday and 2.30am on Sunday nights.

But after hearing from two police officers about problems at the premises, Breckland licensing sub-committee refused the variation application.

Miss Cross, who has managed the venue for 16 years, later declined to comment on the decision.

Police sergeant Gareth Woodward told the committee that officers were called to an incident in September when a man was punched and kicked in an unprovoked attack and knocked unconscious.

“Door staff were on duty inside the pub but made no attempt to stop the offender leaving the scene. In a pursuit and arrest of the offender, a police officer was injured and taken to hospital,” he said.

Sgt Woodward also told of a visit to the club when the only member of staff on duty was completely unaware of any of the licence details and could not answer any of the officer's questions.

Sgt Woodward said he was on duty on November 6 when he was called to the Plough and Furrow in response to a fight. A man had been hit inside the premises. It was clear that both men had been involved in a disturbance inside the premises but door staff stated they had seen nothing.

The committee heard from licensing officer, Tony Grover, that a pattern had emerged in which Miss Cross would be spoken to about police concerns, she would say that the problems were being addressed and then it would slip back again.

“That was the situation over the past two or three years,” he said.

Mr Grover did admit that there appeared to be some improvement at the present time in the way the premises were being run.

Licensing consultant Brian Hardie, on behalf of Miss Cross, admitted there had been issues in the past but now Miss Cross's personal circumstances had changed allowing her to “focus back on the ball” and she was more hands-on, particularly at weekends.

Personnel in the door supervision's team had been changed resulting in significant improvements, said Mr Hardie.

In announcing the refusal decision, committee chairman David Myers, made reference to the number of police calls to the premises and its immediate surroundings, evidence of lack of proper management, and lack of control by door staff.

“However, the sub-committee needs to be satisfied that improvements promised by Miss Cross be maintained in promoting the licensing objective of preventing crime and disorder.”

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