Police shutting pubs when hosts are absent

Related tags Personal licence holder License

Pubs are being forced to close their doors when over-zealous police and council officials discover there is no qualified licensee on the premises....

Pubs are being forced to close their doors when over-zealous police and council officials discover there is no qualified licensee on the premises.

Two pubs in Yorkshire and one in Cannock Chase, Birmingham, were ordered to shut after spot checks revealed there was no personal licence holder on site. Trade groups have criticised the closures, saying that they fly in the face of Licensing Act guidance issued by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.

Hosts Phil and Tracy Elrington were forced to cut short a holiday in Spain after learning their pub, the Mount in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, had been closed down. The couple left an experienced relief manager in charge but police told him he was not qualified and the pub would have to close immediately.

"I could not believe it when we got a phone call saying the pub had been shut. I thought there had been a riot or something,

but it was the police insisting a personal licence holder had to be present," said Elrington. The Elringtons have been told by licensing officers that the matter is to be reported to the Crown Prosecution Service.

A second Barnsley licensee, Dennis Griffiths, of the Miners Arms, was told by police to cancel his holiday this week if he intended to leave the pub without qualified supervision. Officers told licensees they were carrying out South Yorks Police policy.

In West Yorkshire, council officials visited the Generous Pioneer, a Wacky Warehouse pub at Burley-in-Wharfedale, last Sat-urday afternoon and ordered it to be closed down when they discovered there was no personal licence holder present. The manager and personal licence holder had left the pub temporarily.

Morning Advertiser legal adviser Peter Coulson described the closures as "unbelievable" and "completely over the top". "The authorities appear to be disregarding clear guidance issued by the DCMS.

"There are specific directions for personal licence holders to delegate authority for others to sell alcohol in their absence.

"Guidance has gone out to police forces and licensing authorities but either some have not read the material they have been sent or are interpreting the law in their own way," he said. "Licensees are entitled to leave their pub if they delegate responsibility to another person."

Federation of Licensed Vic-tuallers Association's chief executive Tony Payne said the closures were breeding an air of uncertainty throughout the trade.

"My advice to any licensee leaving his pub for a holiday or for any length of time is to leave written delegated authority naming all persons who will be selling alcohol," he said.

Related topics Licensing law

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