Nursing home's fears over pub hours bid

THE health of elderly and frail residents at a Suffolk nursing home could deteriorate if controversial plans to extend the opening hours of a village pub are passed, it was warned last night.

THE health of elderly and frail residents at a Suffolk nursing home could deteriorate if controversial plans to extend the opening hours of a village pub are passed, it was warned last night.

Concerned health chiefs, councillors and residents have joined forces to oppose the plans for the George and Dragon pub in the heart of Long Melford's conservation area.

And they have received unexpected sympathy from pub landlord Daniel Hull, who felt the Government's new 24-hour drinking laws had compelled him to push ahead with the plans.

“The changes in licensing laws are forcing us to stay open later to compete with other places locally,” Mr Hull said.

“This is not something we would have chosen to do and we would prefer to close at 11.30pm like before - but the goalposts have changed.

“I am sympathetic to the concerns of the community and I can understand some of the concerns but we have to do what we can to survive. It would be stupid of me to play live music every night and I certainly couldn't afford it.”

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The pub proposes opening until midnight between Sunday and Thursday and until 1am at the weekends.

But, despite the landlord's assurances, protestors have warned that the extension - and the possibility of more live music - could lead to a dramatic increase in crime in the village and cause serious effects on the well-being of residents at the neighbouring Melford Court nursing home.

Oliver Thomas, regional director of BUPA Care Homes, which runs the nursing home in Hall Street, said: “Melford Court is registered to provide nursing care to 52 elderly frail residents and my primary concern is for their well-being.

“I am extremely concerned that any more regular late night openings with music will significantly increase the opportunity for our elderly residents to be disturbed when they wish to sleep, which in turn could have a detrimental effect on their health.

“The current climate of binge drinking and resulting anti-social behaviour is well known and I would be extremely unhappy were this to become the case next door to a nursing home looking after vulnerable residents, some of whom are very frail and of ill health.”

Margaret King, a resident at the nursing home, said: “I, and many of my fellow residents, feel that the noise generated is already excessive on the basis of two days a week and can prevent us from sleeping. Any extension in hours would therefore certainly affect our health and well-being.”

Sgt Chris Addison, of Sudbury Police, said: “When the new licensing laws are in place, we will continue to police in and around licensed premises and respond to any incidents. Those committing any criminal offences will be dealt with accordingly.”

The district council's licensing sub-committee will meet on November 17 to discuss the application for the Greene King-owned pub.

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