The Axe does not fall but opening hours reduced at Saffron Walden pub

After a meeting to review its licence, The Axe on Ashdon Road will stay open - but with reduced open

After a meeting to review its licence, The Axe on Ashdon Road will stay open - but with reduced opening hours at the weekends - Credit: Archant

A Saffron Walden landlord says the council’s decision to cut his pub’s opening hours will “drive business into the arms of ­competitors” – after residents complained of noise and disturbance from the customers.

On Monday, Uttlesford District Council (UDC) licensing committee has reduced ­weekend opening hours at The Axe, in Ashdon Road, which ­landlord Steve Kienlen said would affect those people who campaigned to keep it open as a community pub.

Last year, residents successfully fought to save the building from being turned into housing. Now it will have to close an hour earlier on Friday and Saturday – from 1am to midnight – install CCTV cameras on its premises, and monitor sound levels so that they do not exceed 34 decibels, a volume Mr Kienlen describes as “the sound of a mouse scratching its ear”.

“To restrict us and not other, more troublesome pubs, gives them a competitive edge over us,” Mr Kienlen said. “Even more unbelievable is that it is clearly the action of a very small group of people. It’s going to make it very hard, people will think about going to other pubs that stay open till 1am.”

The move comes after more than 20 complaints to the council about noise and rowdiness outside the pub, which have allegedly increased since Mr Kienlen took over in May.

Father-of-two Steve Temblett, of Ashdon Road, said: “I’m just hopeful it will make a difference. It [the ruling] seems to take into account the complaints. Closing an hour earlier at weekends will help and installing CCTV will be a deterrent to people hanging around outside.

“It seems due consideration has been given and will help with the noise, but only time will tell.”

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Councillor Doug Perry, who was instrumental in saving the pub last year, chaired the licence and environmental health committee meeting, which announced the ruling after more than an hour of deliberations.

“I don’t think the change in hours will affect their ­business,” he said. “The problem is the behaviour of the pub – it could have been managed better. They haven’t worked with the residents, or the police.”

Further conditions imposed on the pub included a restriction on live music events to six a year, staff to be deployed at exits and in the car park, and for taxi drivers to be designated for staff and patrons.