Pub labelled 'law-breakers' for £1.20 water charge on TripAdvisor

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

Pub labelled 'law-breakers' for £1.20 water charge on TripAdvisor

Related tags Tap water License Tripadvisor

A licensee has defended her pub after an angry cyclist labelled staff ‘law-breakers’ for charging £1.20 for tap water.

The Witham Tavern in Boston is reportedly being investigated by Boston Borough Council licensing department after two paying customers complained about being charged for filling their water bottles.

The Licensing Act 2003, Mandatory Licensing Conditions, orders licensees to provide tap water when it is ‘reasonably available’.


Following a scathing review left by the customer on TripAdvisor​, the licensee defended the decision, explaining the pub’s water is on a meter and the charge is for bottled water.

“We are not breaking the law, you asked first to have your two large bottles filled and then your friend asked” Christine G responded.

“My staff have to be paid to serve and the water is on a meter. I am sure there are lots of pubs that charge for large bottles of water. My staff was very pleasant and did say we sell bottles of water for £1.20 which is of course is far better than tap water. We hope you enjoyed your bike ride home.”

But that didn’t stop the angry customer complaining to the local council, and on Facebook.

“I’m the cyclist who had lunch with my friend at your pub yesterday. We cycled close to 150 miles that day and could have stopped anywhere but chose your cute looking tavern by the river,” Hannah Spencer said.

“After paying for our food, we asked politely to have our water bottles filled. You told us there was a charge for this and that you charge £1.20 for each glass of tap water. Due to your minimum £10 card spend and the fact that we had already paid for food, it would have cost us £10 to have bottles filled with tap water.


“It was not only mean to refuse free water to two young, sunburnt cyclists: I have now found out this is also illegal under the licensing act. You have now been reported. Have a nice day.”

On TripAdvisor the cyclist wrongfully claimed the pub is legally required to ‘combat the effects of drinking’ with water.

But there was a silver lining for the licensee, as Spencer admitted the chips were delicious, and the vegetarian sausages weren’t bad either.


The experience led to a two-star, or ‘poor’ rating on TripAdvisor, titled ‘Law-Breakers’.

The full review stated: “Stopped here with a friend at mile 93 of a 150 mile bike ride. We ordered 2 vegetarian sausage lunches and 2 coffees but when we asked politely to have our water bottles filled up we were told there would be a charge of £1.20 per bottle as thats what they charge for a glass of tap water. As a pub with an alcohol license, this is a breach of the licensing act as they are legally required to provide free tap water to combat the effects of drinking.

"They can't even claim a service charge for the glasses because we were asking for our own bottles to be filled. We will be contacting the local authorities to report this and hope that they are taken more seriously than we were... On the bright side, the chips were delicious and the vegetarian sausages not bad either!”


Should pubs be allowed to charge for tap water?

  • Yes

  • No


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