Thwaites High Court case begins

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Representatives from Thwaites appeared in the High Court today in a landmark case to overturn a magistrate's decision over pub opening hours.The...

Representatives from Thwaites appeared in the High Court today in a landmark case to overturn a magistrate's decision over pub opening hours.

The Saughall Hotel, in Saughall Massie, had its hours cut by Wirral Magistrates after locals appealed against Wirral Borough Council's decision to grant a late licence.

Residents feared troublemakers from nearby pubs would create a disturbance in the village.

The pub traded until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight from Sunday to Thursday, from November 2005 - when the new Licensing Act came in - until the appeal in April 2006.

Today lawyers for Thwaites argued the magistrate's decision was "unreasonable" and "unlawful".

Mr D Pickup acting for Thwaites said: "The decision does not allow the flexibility of the Act. The magistrates have decided what hours we need and that we can't have anymore. We say that's wrong."

He added: "The magistrates did not agree with the principles behind the act and decided to ignore it. They wrongly assumed it was their role to mediate between the residents and the brewery. They were supposed to have reasoned their judgement on the merit of the application."

Thwaites argued the magistrates had based their ruling on speculation rather than evidence, as there were no reported incidents of crime related to the pub during the period of extended hours.

Mr D Flood, representing the Saughall Massive Village Conservation Society, defended the magistrate's decision.

He argued that there was a threat of violence and trouble as a result of extended hours.

"To date the full extent of the hours were not used. We have not yet seen what the long term impact would be," he said.

A verdict is expected later this week.

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