Pub where licence revoked over drug dealing applies for new licence

The incident happened in the car park of the Leather Bottle pub in Colchester

The Leather Bottle has applied for a new alcohol licence. - Credit: Google Maps

A pub that had its licence revoked after drug dealers unwittingly sold cocaine to undercover police has sought a new licence to sell alcohol.

Residents have raised concerns after The Leather Bottle, in Colchester, submitted a new application to the borough council.

The pub was described as “arguably the heart of a large-scale cocaine supply business" by police when its licence was revoked in January, after an investigation into drug dealing between June and November 2021.

A report to the council ahead of a meeting next Tuesday said the applicant, listed as Ms Maxine Burch, has agreed a series of conditions with Essex Police and Environment Protection, including submitting a written drugs policy and keeping a drug safe at the pub for storing confiscated illegal substances.

The report also cites submissions from residents who have expressed concern crime and antisocial behaviour could return if the new licence is granted.

One read: “This seems to suggest that granting a licence may mean no lessons have been learned with regard to drugs.

“Have the police got the manpower to follow up all the items that have been put in place if the licence is granted? Can the Borough Council guarantee that all the safeguards put in place can be checked for compliance?”

Another read: “This was stripped of its alcohol licence for a reason. It was the ‘heart of a large scale cocaine business’! 

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“Has everyone forgot? How this could even be given the time and consideration is beyond us all.”

If approved, the new opening hours will be from 10am-midnight Sunday-Wednesday and until 1am Thursday-Saturday.

Another of the conditions agreed with Essex Police is that the car park will be shut from 30 minutes after closing until 30 minutes before opening.

CCTV would cover all entrances to the pub, all areas of the garden and car park and entrances to the toilets.

At January's meeting where the licence was revoked, solicitor representing the licence holders, named as Mr O’Toole of John Fowler Solicitors at the meeting, denied staff were involved in illegal activities.

In addition to discovering evidence of drug dealing, officers witnessed a fight between eight men using weapons during their investigation, which escalated into three of the men driving at people in the car park.

The committee will meet to decide whether to approve the application on May 3 2022.