999 police call made after ‘free’ tap water row between cyclists and Freckenham Golden Boar pub staff
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A tap water argument between pub staff and cyclists broke out in Freckenham after the group asked for a free water bottle fill-up for four.
The argument ended with the cyclists being asked to leave and one of their group calling 999.
The Golden Boar pub and restaurant in Freckenham unwillingly became the centre of an online debate when four passing cyclists stopped for a drink on Sunday.
Both the pub manager and the cyclists dispute how the events transpired, but the group are alleged to have got into a row with pub staff after asking for their four water bottles to be filled with tap water.
The debate spilled out on to Twitter, Facebook and online cycling forums after accounts of the issue were posted online.
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The pub manager, whose family have owned the pub for eight years and did not wish to be named, said the cyclists were asked to leave after they became abusive to his staff.
He said: “They arrived just before we opened actually, they knocked on the door and we thought we might as well open up early and let them in.
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“A woman came to the bar ordered one soft drink and then asked us to fill four large sports bottles.
“I did not refuse, but because we are on a metre and pay for our water, I applied a small service charge of 50p.”
The cyclist is then alleged to have refused the water, taken her soft drink and told her friends not to bother buying anything else.
However, according to accounts posted on cycling forums and review site TripAdvisor, the group was apparently trying to buy a “round of drinks” and were refused tap water unless they bought a minimum of £50 worth of food and drink.
An account from cyclist Arthur Tye on an online cycle forum read: “Just had a hell of an experience at The Golden Boar.
“Riding from north Norfolk back home to Cambridge after a weekend tour with friends we stopped at The Golden Boar to have a quick snack and refresh.
“After buying a round of drinks and bar snacks they refused to fill our water bottles at the bar ‘unless we spent £50 on food’. “Slightly bemused we went outside to consume what we had bought. A female cyclist in the group saw one of the kitchen staff walking past outside and slightly cheekily asked if they could fill our bottles, which they gladly obliged.”
He said the manager caught his friend getting water from the kitchen staff, poured the water out and demanded they left.
He alleged they received abuse from staff, leading to them calling the police.
The manager, a cyclist himself, disputes this turn of events. He said that the female cyclist had entered the kitchen through an area not open to customers and when he found her there, demanded that she left.
He said: “We don’t have a no cyclists policy, just a no abuse and aggressive behaviour policy. We don’t refuse to give out tap water, we serve it all the time as we are near the (US Air Force) base, they expect tap water as a matter of course.
“We are a family run pub, we do lots of work for charity, run a monthly pub quiz to raise funds.”
He said he and the pub had been subjected to a “campaign” of online abuse after the incident.
“We thought nothing of it after they left,” he said. “Then it appears online and people start giving us bad reviews and sending us messages.
“But we have also had plenty of support online from cyclists as well, which is good to see.”
He said they often have cyclists as guests and while not describing the business as deliberately “cyclist friendly”, added: “I don’t care how our customers travel, bike, car, walk, it doesn’t matter. I just won’t tolerate abuse.”
Suffolk police confirmed they were called via 999 at 12.20pm on Sunday October 4 by a cyclist who complained they had been kicked out of a pub after being refused tap water and had been threatened.
They did not despatch anyone and advised the caller that the pub has a right to refuse service to anyone and to ask people to leave their premises.