Essex pub in the dock amid claims of hooliganism and underage drinking

AN HISTORIC Essex pub which became the scene of under-age drinking and hooliganism faces closure after magistrates barred it from selling alcohol.

AN HISTORIC Essex pub which became the scene of under-age drinking and hooliganism faces closure after magistrates barred it from selling alcohol.

The Billy Pub has been in Harwich for more than 250 years but a long-list of complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour and criminal damage brought it to the attention of the authorities.

Dean and Jolene Bull, owners of the West Street ale house, appealed against a decision made by Tendring district councillors early last year to revoke their licence.

The ongoing proceedings through the courts meant the pub was able to continue selling alcohol until a ruling was made.

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However, the appeal has this week been dismissed by Harwich magistrates and Mr and Mrs Bull were also ordered to pay �5,000 costs.

The council’s premises and personal licenses sub committee originally reviewed the licence following an application by Essex Police.

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They were told by officers that underage drinkers used the pub and police were called to 58 incidents during the past four years.

The magistrates’ ruling, made on Thursday, has been welcomed by both the council and the police.

John Margerum, Tendring District Council’s (TDC) assistant head of legal services, said: “It is sad that it came to a situation where the licence was revoked but the council will continue to adopt a strong stance against underage drinking and hooliganism in co-operation with the police and trading standards.”

And David Appleby, police licensing officer, said the Billy had been a problem for some time and that there was concern over the sale of alcohol to underage drinkers.

He said: “There has been a huge amount of public disorder and fighting and this was why we asked for the licence to be reviewed.

“There was a further serious disturbance only last weekend.”

Mr Appleby said police have worked with the owners and staged regular meetings with them.

“We had been there 18 times and we had gone as far as we could to help them. The magistrates’ decision has to be the right result in terms of protecting the public.

“We want to make it clear to all premises in Tendring that the sale of alcohol to those who are underage will not be tolerated. If premises behave in this way they can expect us to call for a review of the licence.”

Pubs and clubs are required to meet four licensing objectives which include the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance and protecting children from harm.

Members of the council’s committee decided the owners of the Billy were in breach of those objectives at a hearing in January last year.

Mr and Mrs Bull were unavailable for comment last night but speaking after the original decision last year, Mrs Bull said she was in a state of shock.

“We have invested every single penny in the town. We have done everything the council have asked us to do.

“I feel very let down by the police, even more by the council, but most of all by local people,” she said.

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