Rebel licensee trio ignore ban

By Tony Halstead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Council License Insurance

Rebel licensees have vowed to continue their smoking-ban protest - despite official warnings handed out by their local councils. The renegade trio...

Rebel licensees have vowed to continue their smoking-ban protest - despite official warnings handed out by their local councils.

The renegade trio are determined to ignore threats of prosecution and continue to allow customers to light up.

Customers at two of the pubs have now received instant £50 fines, but enforcement officers have stopped short of taking action against the licensees.

One protester, Hamish Howitt of the Happy Scot, in Blackpool, has survived a no- confidence motion calling for him to resign as chairman of the town's Pubwatch. He has also refused Blackpool Police Nightsafe's request to quit his position.

The defiant host, who founded his own political party, known as Fight Against Government Suppression (Fags) has challenged his local council to prosecute him. "Fining my customers, and not me, is pathetic.

"The council knows I'm not going to stop my customers smoking - so what is it waiting for?" he asked.

Fellow protester Nick

Hogan of the Swan, Church-gate, Bolton, has also seen one of his customers fined for lighting up.

Hogan has now been issued with a second warning by the council, but it said it would not force him to conform.

A third licensee, Tony Blows of the Dog Inn, Ewyas Harold, in Hereford, said he had received two visits from council officials.

"Each time the officers arrive, my customers simply vanish - and the officers admit they haven't actually witnessed anyone breaking the law," he said.

"I make the consequences of breaking the new law clear to everyone, but I am not going to risk putting my staff in a conflict situation by asking them to tell customers to stub-out their cigarettes."

No council closure powers

Councils have no powers under smoking-ban laws to order "on-the-spot" closure of a pub they discover breaching the ban, says MA legal editor Peter Coulson.

"The police or another authority might have a case for a licence review under the Licensing Act in that a criminal statute had been breached and the crime and disorder licensing objective was not met, but it would be a long shot," he said.

Licensee's smoke-ban plans destroyed by council

A licensee's smoking-ban plans are in tatters after a local council demanded £10m insurance liability for pavement tables and chairs outside her pub.

Host Suzie Dreja of the Royal Oak, in Southampton, Hampshire, said she cannot find an insurance company who will accept such a huge indemnity figure.

Dreja said she will be forced to remove the tables and chairs and lose the pub's only smoking amenity unless the council agrees to climb down.

"The pavement licence had a £2m indemnity clause written into it, but on renewal the council says it wants £10m - and so far it has not backed down," she said.

"We are a land-locked city-centre pub and the pavement is the only outside facility we are able to offer."

Dreja said her insurance company, Pro Publican, has refused to provide cover and that enquiries to other insurers have drawn a blank so far.

A council spokesman claimed that £10m was a similar figure to that being quoted by other local authorities, but said it was in discussion with the licensee about the problem.

Traders at nearby Gosport protested en masse when the council tried to impose a similar £10m indemnity - but backed down and subsequently agreed to a figure of £5m.

Whisker took too many risks

A drinker at a North Yorkshire pub was arrested for being drunk and disorderly after flouting the smoking ban.

Martin Whisker, 42, kept sparking up at Riskers pub in Scarborough in protest at the ban. Police were called when he refused requests to leave.

He spent the night in a cell and was hit with an £80 fixed-penalty notice for being drunk and disorderly.

"Martin has been a customer for years, but he walked in and immediately put five fags in his mouth," said owner Barry Risker.

"We asked him to put them out or go outside, but he refused, and asked us to call the police. We had no option because I could be fined £2,500. I think he was arrested more for being cheeky than smoking as he refused to leave and then hid behind a van."

Scarborough Council said it would take a softly-softly approach to enforcement in the first days of the ban, with offenders receiving a warning about future behaviour.

Related topics Other operators

Property of the week


£ 60,000 - Leasehold

Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more