Pub loses licence after drugs bust
TIME was called on the Queen Elizabeth pub in Saffron Walden on Tuesday night, when its licence was revoked. The licensing committee at Uttlesford District Council heard evidence from Essex Police, the licensees and a former employee of the pub before dec
TIME was called on the Queen Elizabeth pub in Saffron Walden on Tuesday night, when its licence was revoked.
The licensing committee at Uttlesford District Council heard evidence from Essex Police, the licensees and a former employee of the pub before deciding to take the most drastic action available to them - revoking the pub's licence.
Owner John Hare and two of the three licensees, Myra Stokley and Deborah Hare, attended the meeting held in the council offices on London Road, Saffron Walden.
Police Supt Tim Stokes said: "During 2006 we became aware of intelligence suggesting the Queen Elizabeth was a centre of drug dealing in Saffron Walden.
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"We put undercover police officers into the pub who were sold class A drug cocaine on 17 separate occasions.
"Due to the overt nature with which these deals were taking place, we believed that the pub's staff were aware it was happening and it was therefore not appropriate to ask them to help with a voluntary closure."
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He said during the raid six wraps of cocaine were recovered as well as six pills and a crack pipe.
Ex-barmaid Victoria Markillie spoke in favour of the pub's licence being retained. She said: "I'm truly gutted my generation is being punished by the only pub in the town with a music licence being threatened with closure.
"There were 120 people in the pub on the night of the raid and there were just nine arrests - that's a small proportion."
Representing the licensees, lawyer Adrian Chaplin reminded the committee that guidelines stipulated any action had to be proportional.
He said the pub would install CCTV and employ doormen if it retained its licence, and that the event of the raid alone was likely to have deterred drug dealers from operating inside.
The police said this was unsatisfactory and suggested that four door staff, four internal CCTV cameras, plastic glasses, a bottle ban and an ID scanner would be required to reassure them.
Mr Chaplin described the tough list of requirements as paramount to a "backdoor revocation".
Chairman Cllr Janice Loughlin said that because the licensees failed to control the situation, they felt a three-month suspension would be insufficient. She then revoked the pub's licence.
Police Chief Insp Graham Stubbs welcomed the news. "The closure of this pub should serve as an illustration to other drug-dealing licensed premises that Essex Police will not allow its residents to become embroiled and witnesses to the scourge of our society," he said.
Licensee Myra Stokley said they would not appeal against the decision, adding: "And now that there is no licence on the premises, there's no way we'll sell the building as a pub.