Protest means Luton pubs miss out on Saturday trading

By Lesley Foottit

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Protest

Police: can only ask pubs to close
Police: can only ask pubs to close
Police have asked pubs and bars in Luton town centre to voluntarily close ahead of a protest on Saturday. The English Defence League and a counter...

Police have asked pubs and bars in Luton town centre to voluntarily close ahead of a protest on Saturday.

The English Defence League and a counter protest organised by Unite Against Fascism will march through the town on Saturday.

Police have requested that pubs and bars close from 12pm until the protests are over, although shops and other businesses will be allowed to open at their discretion.

The town centre will be closed to traffic from 7am with bus drop-offs and a limited taxi service running.

One pub, the Exchange, which normally opens from 10am will not open until 6pm after the protests. A spokesman said he did not know how much money the bar would lose, but that "eight hours is a long time in trade terms".

JD Wetherspoon pub the White House will be closed all day. "I can't give details of what it will cost us, but fair to say that the White House is a very popular and busy pub and Saturday is always a busy day, so certainly financial costs will be involved," said spokesman Eddie Gershon. "However, the company believes it is the right approach to close on the day."

Another pub, the Heights, has taken the decision to close all day to avoid trouble — a loss of 14 trading hours.

Safe environment

Chief superintendent Mike Colbourne said: "Uniformed officers from forces around the country are supporting Bedfordshire Police in policing this event so that everyone who comes into town on Saturday — whether a protestor or a worker or a shopper — feels safe to get on with their day.

"Luton will look very different to normal, and there will be some traffic problems, but the officers, their dogs and horses are all there with the same purpose — to look after the town."

Voluntary closure

Morning Advertiser's legal expert Peter Coulson said that there are three routes the police can take to ordering the closure of pubs and bars.

Coulson said however, as the disturbance is external to the venues themselves, the only way the police can urge pubs to shut is by a voluntary closure order.

"It may well be that in Luton, licensees decide closing would be a good idea," said Coulson. "It is clearly an inflamed situation and it is likely there will be a problem."

Coulson said losses incurred by closing cannot be claimed back through insurance or other means as it was a voluntary closure.

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