Police oppose pub's extra hours bid

A WELL-KNOWN pub's bid to open until the early hours four times a week has run into major opposition from police amid allegations of high levels of violence and disorder.

A WELL-KNOWN pub's bid to open until the early hours four times a week has run into major opposition from police amid allegations of high levels of violence and disorder.

If given the go-ahead, the Wig and Pen in Colchester would not close until 1am on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and be licensed to open until midnight on Sunday.

But Essex Police has objected to the proposal at the popular town centre location, saying it may lead to increases in crime and disorder in Colchester with revellers consuming more alcohol.

They claim the High Street venue has one of the highest rates of violence and disorder in Colchester, with only the three major clubs ahead of it in a “top ten” list of venues.

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Colchester police have said they would be prepared to re-think their recommendation if the venue is able to cut down on the levels of trouble.

But last night, Ray Martin, Wig and Pen manager, said he categorically denied the police claims about the pub and questioned how they had come to their conclusions.

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He said: “Apparently we are the number one pub for violence and disorder - when I saw that my heart broke. I was dumbfounded that we have been classed as a place for violence, and it was not just me, it was my staff and my family who are part of the team here.

“If it was the case, don't you think the licensing authority would have pulled me up and the problems would have been reported?

“I would like to know how they prove this, perhaps it is because we call the police when there is trouble on the High Street.”

Mr Martin said the news had been like a “kick in the teeth”.

“Yes, we get a lot of army boys in here, but I have total respect from them. We don't offer the cheap drinks like other pubs, we are the most expensive on the High Street,” he said.

He added the pub had been unfairly blamed for an incident when an unregistered doorman - who was nothing to do with the pub - was arrested for fighting near the Wig and Pen.

Colchester Borough Council's licensing committee will vote on the application tomorrow night.

Henry Spyvee represents the Castle Ward, where the pub is located, and said he objected “most strongly” to the proposed change in licensing hours.

In a letter to the licensing department he stated: “I object most strongly to this application in respect of the request for opening beyond midnight.

“This will add to the difficulties the police have in dealing with the law and order at this time. It will also affect adversely the ambience of the town centre as a place where people can come to eat or to visit the theatre or the cinema.”

The Colchester Civic Society is also opposed to the changes, saying the town is already “saturated” with similar venues.

Its chairman, John Egan, said: “It is an unfortunate fact that a proportion of the users of licensed premises act in an anti-social manner after leaving pubs and clubs, so as to cause alarm and annoyance to residents of the town centre. The extension of the hours requested will only exacerbate this problem with more people moving around as pubs close.”

Mr Egan also refuted claims extended opening hours and staggered closing times would lead to less anti-social behaviour.

“Experience does not support this view,” he added.

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