Pub previously site of undercover police sting gets new licence

The Leather Bottle, Shrub End Road, Colchester.

The Leather Bottle, Shrub End Road, Colchester - Credit: Google

An Essex pub which was banned from selling alcohol after undercover police discovered drug use in plain sight has been granted a new licence.

The Leather Bottle in Colchester lost its licence earlier this year after a police investigation saw drug dealers unknowingly sold cocaine to the undercover officers, who also witnessed fights and antisocial behaviour at the premises.

According to a decision notice, Colchester Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee has granted an application by Maxine Burch for a new licence at the Shrub End Road pub.

The committee concluded there was no link between the current applicant and the previous licence holder. Essex Police did not object to the new application.

Ms Burch said at the hearing she wanted to turn the Leather Bottle into a family pub.

Previously working in care as well as a licensee at Colchester Sports and Social Club for 13 years, said she wanted to attract older generations into the pub and is happy to work with the police and neighbours.

She said: “I’ve always wanted to take on this pub, I’ve always thought it was such a lovely pub and then when I heard it all went wrong I went to the owner to say could I buy the lease and become a licensee again.”

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Twenty-two objections were received against the application from residents fearing drug use and noise could return.

£800,000 has been spent refurbishing the pub, including on cameras which feed footage straight to the police, according to Ms Burch.

Barrister for the applicant Dan Taylor said Ms Burch should not be “tarnished” by previous events at the pub unconnected to her.

He said: “As far as the application is concerned, various safeguards have been provided within that application in order to meet the concerns that have been raised by some of the local residents in this case.

“It is of note, we say, that in fact the police and other authorities don’t object to the granting of the licence and there has been significant dialogue between the parties prior to today’s hearing.”

Mr Taylor continued to say councils and licence holders would never be able to entirely prevent drug use from taking place.

According to a report published ahead of the hearing, conditions agreed between the applicant, Essex Police and Environmental Protection include keeping a drug safe at the pub for storing confiscated illegal substances and shutting the car park 30 minutes after closing until 30 minutes before opening.