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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Cumbrian pub closed amid fears 'someone could die'

A Workington pub has been closed down amid fears that it’s so badly run, someone could die.

Appletree pub photo
The Appletree, Workington

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

The Appletree, on Finkle Street, had its licence revoked last night by Allerdale council after complaints from police.

A two-day review heard that since landlady Anita Gilpin took over a year ago there had been numerous issues and incidents at the pub, including two cases of serious injury.

In one, a man was punched, kicked and stamped on, officers said, and another involved a man’s head going through a window.

Mrs Gilpin intends to appeal the licensing panel’s decision, saying if that failed she faced bankruptcy. She said that she had taken on the pub to work to fund her 11-year-old daughter through university when the time came but now she could lose her home.

The licensing review heard evidence from Sgt Richard Farnworth and PC Lorraine Murphy that officers had been called to numerous incidents over the last year and there were other licensing issues such as CCTV footage not being retained for the required 28 days and people who employed door staff not having the correct licences.

Mrs Gilpin and her solicitor Paul Nicholson said, however, that there had been very few incidents of actual crime or disorder directly linked to the pub and the CCTV storage issue had been due to a technical fault. The required licences were now in place in relation to door staff.

Mr Nicholson said there had been no incidents there throughout the busy Christmas period. But anonymous statements from three people living or working nearby described the venue as “hell on earth”, with customers congregating by the front door, smoking, swearing and spitting. They said the pub caused a noise disturbance and one said they had seen a couple having sex against the back gates.

Stephen Carini, whose security firm provided the pub’s bouncers, said noise from karaoke and other entertainment was kept at the front of the building and there was minimal disturbance.

He said there had only been three incidents of disorder at the pub when his staff had been working there and they had all been recorded on appropriate forms. He and Mrs Gilpin also raised concerns that police had refused to allow the pub to have a radio which would have allowed it to communicate with officers and other pubs in the town and could have given early warning of potential trouble in the area.

The panel was given a host of letters of support from customers, staff and nearby residents and traders.

Mrs Gilpin told the hearing she had bought the pub for her niece Michelle Park to run but she had been sacked in August and when she contacted Allerdale council to resign her position as premises supervisor, she said she was stepping down because of the conduct of Mrs Gilpin and customers.

Mrs Gilpin ended up taking on the role and she accepted that there had been failings in her management. She wanted to appoint Trevor Pepper, who runs Boxer Security, as licensee and premises supervisor.

Mr Pepper said he believed the pub could operate successfully if its management was tightened up.

Mr Nicholson said: “We are not asking for the pub to reopen today.

“We are asking for the opportunity to put in a proper management structure so the pub can reopen in the future with the support of the police.”

Sgt Farnworth, however, said: “We have shown beyond any doubt the serious crime and disorder is a constituent part of the regular licensable activity at the Appletree. We seriously believe that if this premises is allowed to reopen there’s a serious likelihood of fatality in the future.”

The panel deliberated for more than an hour before reaching its decision.

Mrs Gilpin, who used to run The Globe at Dearham, has 21 days to appeal.

After the hearing she said she was disgusted by the decision as her pub was no worse for disorder, and in some cases better, than other places. She added: “I have worked all my life for everything and now it’s lost.”

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