Welling pub to have licence reviewed after police “dispersed 100 drinkers” during peak coronavirus lockdown

By Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter

A pub in Welling will have its licence reviewed after police claimed to have busted up to 100 drinkers during peak coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The Green Man could potentially have new licensing conditions slapped on it, including being banned from takeaway sales, when the case fronts Bexley council’s licensing committee on Friday.

It comes after a May 31 incident where the Metropolitan Police said they were called to the scene amid fears social distancing regulations were being ignored at the venue, with dozens of people reportedly milling around the area drinking.

Statements lodged by police ahead of the hearing state they went to the pub at about 1.30pm on the Saturday after multiple calls from concerned members of the public.

Police estimated that about 100 people were either standing in the car park of the pub or on a grassy area nearby at Shoulder of Mutton Green, “consuming alcohol from open plastic containers or from opened bottles of alcohol”.

They subsequently shut the pub down, citing coronavirus lockdown regulations, and attempted to move on the masses from the site.

Police who attended said they received “verbal abuse” as they attempted to disperse pub-goers who “appeared intoxicated”.

One of the PCs present, who wrote that friends of his had family members who had died from Covid-19, stated that one reveller told him “You ain’t a biologist mate, you’re just a police officer so keep out of it,” as he attempted to break up the crowd.

“(The pub) effectively encouraged this behaviour by serving alcohol in open containers and opening bottles for customers,” a police statement said.

It has led to police recommending a raft of new restrictions for the pub, but they stopped short of advising completely revoking the premises licence.

Among police requests are for off-sales to be banned at the site, while it has also been requested that the designated premises supervisor, the person who has day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business, be removed from the licence.

Pub licensee Steven Cobbald, in his statement, rejected claims that police were abused or drinkers were intoxicated at the site during the incident.

“The suggestion of a ‘complete lack of management’ is emphatically denied as is their suggestion that there was a complete disregard for the law,” he wrote ahead of the meeting.

“We took this very seriously indeed. The cost of the perspex screens and fitting was in excess of £900 and we would not have spent that money after having no income if we intended to flout the legislation so that the exercise could not be repeated.”

Bexley’s licensing sub-committee is set to meet at 10am on Friday.

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