Pub told to close on three days a week

By Richard SmithA PUB with a violent reputation was ordered last night to close for three days a week in an effort to stop drunken louts spoiling an historic town.

By Richard Smith

A PUB with a violent reputation was ordered last night to close for three days a week in an effort to stop drunken louts spoiling an historic town.

Licensing justices in Ipswich ordered the Angel pub in Woodbridge to close all day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with immediate effect.

They said the Theatre Street pub could open from Monday to Thursday, but only if the licensees obeyed strict conditions.

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There will no amplified music, the patio has to be vacated by 10pm, a doorman must operate from 7.30pm to 11.30pm and it is not allowed to broadcast any televised sporting events.

Licensing justices will consider whether the pub's licence should be revoked at a hearing next month.

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Announcing their decision, the justices said the pub licensees had allowed commercial considerations to override their licensing responsibilities - and added the three-day-a-week closure was necessary to restore calm and order in Woodbridge.

Speaking after the hearing, Inspector Ben Cook, of Woodbridge police, said: “Suffolk is the safest county in England and we are determined to keep it that way.

“This decision was made to prevent disorder and disruption affecting those lives of the people that live and frequent Woodbridge and want to enjoy it in peace.”

The licensing justices spent two hours making their decision at the end of a two-day hearing that was called to review a closure order that police officers had made on the Angel on Friday.

It was suddenly shut down from Friday evening until Monday morning when officers feared violence would erupt in common with other weekends at the pub.

Giving evidence, police officers said they had been surprised by the “sheer hostility and aggression” shown towards them when they patrolled Woodbridge at night.

Sgt Caroline Miller, licensing officer for Woodbridge, said: “It is a worrying trend where police are dealing with people in Woodbridge, singling them out for disorder, and a crowd gathers and are hostile and turn on the police.”

The court heard Amy Rogers and Sally Hemmings had become joint licensees of the Angel in June last year.

Sgt Miller said recorded crime in Theatre Street and Market Hill had doubled since the new licensees took charge and added many of the crimes were attributable to the Angel's customers.

She detailed a catalogue of violence, fighting, criminal damage, drunkenness and assaults on police during the past year.

Police have attended the Angel almost 20 times, including on February 27 when two drunks were found squaring up to each other in the pub car park and a 16-year-old was ejected from the premises.

Later a group of up to 40 drinkers left the Angel and Sgt Miller said they were very noisy, play fighting and blocking the road.

The disorderly crowd wandered into the market square, where a small number cornered Sgt Miller in a doorway.

“For the first time in six-and-a-half years in Woodbridge, I considered drawing my baton to create a space,” said Sgt Miller.

Two officers came to her help and Miss Rogers was warned a repetition of that evening's disorder would result in an application for the pub to be closed.

The court heard there had been further problems and on June 5, up to 40 people had blocked the road.

“They were intoxicated, we were struggling to keep the situation calm, but they seemed hell bent on confronting officers. There was an arrest and then almost all those present vented their anger at the police,” said Sgt Miller.

“One man pushed an officer in the back, he was arrested and he managed to swing a policeman around like a rag doll. She had substantial bruising.

“I was surprised that no-one was more seriously hurt. Officers acted highly professional and courageously. It is difficult to describe on paper the sheer hostility and aggression shown towards the police.”

Miss Rogers, 25, has eight years' experience in the licensing trade and works 100 hours a week at the Angel, where she lives.

She said up to 40 drinkers had been banned from The Angel and none of them had returned.

Miss Rogers added she was vigilant about stopping under-age drinkers coming into the pub, had security cameras monitoring the beer garden and kept doors and windows closed after 10pm to prevent a noise disturbance.

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