Police and public call for pub’s licence to be revoked

A pub in Whipton should have its premises licence revoked, police have said.

Local residents of Whipton Village Road had asked Exeter City Council to undertake a review of the premises licence currently held by Hawthorne Leisure (Mantle) Ltd for The Half Moon.

The pub has been closed since October 2019 and Devon and Cornwall Police is supporting residents who have called for the pub to stay closed for good.

Instances of fighting, drug taking, and intimidatory behaviour are outlined by the residents, who have not put their names to any of the complaints for fear of reprisals, and who have outlined how the quality of life has improved since the pub closed.

Exeter City Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee will meet on Friday, January 10, and will determine the pub’s future.

Explaining the grounds for the review, a local resident said: “We all agree that the pub should not re-open. It has been notorious over the years but has seriously deteriorated in the last five years or so with many neighbours making regular calls to the police.

“The types of behaviour witnessed on regular occasions include drug dealing, drug taking, large and small scale fighting, excessive noise, damage to properties, fighting happening quite literally on our doorsteps, people urinating in not so secluded places, and intimidating behaviour from people and their pet dogs.

“While there are the regulars who will always love this establishment, it is well documented through experience or people calls just how much trouble this pub attracts.

“We should not have to watch, listen, and bring our children up around this quite frankly disgusting behaviour. This good use of space is being used to attract drugs, fighting, anti-social behaviour, and should be stopped while we have the opportunity.”

Police submission

David Adams-Leach, Alcohol Licensing Officer for Devon and Cornwall Police, has supported the residents who wish the see the pub stay shut.

In his submission, he said that between March and December, there had been 18 incidents at the pub where violence and criminal damage have taken place, the majority involving people who are drink, and that ten crimes have been recorded.

He added: “There have been four changes of DPS in this time and there were slight improvements initially, but over the weeks, the incidents would increase. Residents report glass in the street, bushes and doorways, and the noise and associated anti-social behaviour has been unbeatable. Residents feel intimidated not only at night but during the day when the premises is open.

“It is worthy of note that none of the residents are willing to be publically identified for fear of retribution from customers who have been intimidated by gesture and verbal abuse when previously identified as engaging with police.

“Despite different DPS’s, different managers, additional conditions, numerous police interventions and negotiations over the last year, nothing has worked.

“Devon and Cornwall Police feel that all previous attempts at finding a suitable resolution have failed and we cannot think of any appropriate conditions that would address the issues. We feel that the only remedy available is revocation of the premises licence.”

Mr Adams-Leach provided a list of crimes and incident logs that have involved the pub since March, which include a 20 person brawl, drunk people on the roof of the pub, an assault, and a burglary.

Crime reports include a man being attacked with a knuckleduster, youths smashing glasses, a banned customers jumping over the bar, turning a beer tap on, and kicking a door down, and a burglary through an insecure door in which £5,700 in cash and the CCTV hard drive was stolen.

Letters from members of the public in support of the licence being revoked outline how day-to-day life has improved in Whipton since the pub closed in the Autumn of 2019.

One says: “With the pub closing, I’ve noticed the day to day life being a lot better within the community and it is a lot friendlier atmosphere and a safer environment. I see no positives in reopening something that causes more cons than pros. Why waste police time and have then visit this place again and again.

“There is a pub 100m up the road which is chalk and cheese with this one. No trouble, no arguments, and most importantly, no drugs.

“If the pub reopens I will have to consider moving. I find it sad I have to think about my safety all because a pub not being run efficiently.”

Another said: “We are all begging you not to allow this pub to reopen as it would be a huge mistake. Since they have been closed it’s been heavenly. Peace and quiet and able to leave windows open to fresh air into of drug smells.”

A third added: “Riot vans and police cars every weekend are the norm. All the people who drink there know we complains and are intimidating us when we leave the house.”

The Licensing Sub-Committee has the option of either revoking the premises licence, making no changes and allowing the pub to reopen, or allowing the pub to reopen with new conditions to its licence.

If the committee were to take the latter option, a series of draft conditions, that include have two door supervisors on duty, live entertainment limited to twice a week, two members of staff on the bar at all times, and having radio communications to the police and other premises working at all times, are outlined.

The committee meets on January 10 to make their decision.

A spokesman for Hawthorn Leisure had previously said: “We’d like to reassure the residents of Whipton Village that we’re looking to bring in a new Partner who knows the area, is familiar with The Half Moon, and can work with them to ensure that the pub can once again play a positive role in the community.”

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