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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Couple had sex against gates of Cumbrian pub described as 'hell on earth'

The future of a Cumbrian pub described as “hell on earth” hangs in the balance today as the council decides whether to close it for good.

Appletree photo
The Appletree pub, Workington

The Appletree, on Finkle Street, Workington, had its licence suspended in March after complaints from police about serious crime and disorder.

A review yesterday heard that in the 12 months since licensee Anita Gilpin took over there had been an increase in crime and disorder and one man was kicked, punched and stamped on.

Neighbours reported regular disturbance from the pub, including noise, customers congregating on the pavement outside, swearing and spitting, and a couple having sex against the pub gates.

Mrs Gilpin’s solicitor, Paul Nicholson, said the pub owner and designated premises supervisor was willing to step aside as manager and appoint Trevor Pepper to manage the pub in her place. But Jonathan Tomlinson, solicitor for Cumbria Constabulary, said the problems were not just down to management.

Tackling that one issue was not enough for the police, he said.

He added: “The chief officer of police does not seek to stifle someone’s business or financial interests lightly.

“To do nothing is not an option.”

Among the evidence presented to the council’s licensing panel yesterday was about an hour of CCTV footage, including some from the serious assault.

Other recent incidents included an assault on Mrs Gilpin’s son Paul outside the pub and a man being arrested after being found in the pub with a broken piece of tile.

Councillors heard that Mrs Gilpin initially ran the pub with her niece Michelle Park, who was designated premises supervisor.

The pair were both given police cautions after police found they were employing door staff without having the necessary licences.

Miss Park resigned in August and Mrs Gilpin later took over as designated premises supervisor.

Police said there had also been problems with the pub’s CCTV not saving footage for the required 28 days, staff not being able to give officers copies of footage on request and pen drives given to police after requests for footage not containing the files.

The hearing was told that officers had visited the pub several times in the last year and had encountered drunk and hostile customers.

Ken Sharples, legal officer for Allerdale council, said he had had regular meetings with Mrs Gilpin over the year and she had always implemented any recommendations he made.

PC Lorraine Murphy read evidence from three witnesses, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

She said one described the Appletree as ‘hell on Earth’ and a scruffy, rundown pub which was like a cattle market.

Sgt Richard Farnworth said: “We have been working with the management of the premises trying to improve it and clearly it’s failed.”

All three witnesses said their lives had improved since the pub’s temporary closure last month.

Stephen Carini, of SPC Security, said his company provided door staff for the pub’s Monday karaoke nights and he was only aware of three recorded incidents of disorder.

He said the pub was friendly and said noise on karaoke nights was confined to the front of the pub, with little disturbance at the back.

The hearing was adjourned at 6pm and the panel was due to hear evidence today from Mrs Gilpin and Mr Pepper.

Councillors were due to make a site visit to the pub this morning.

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