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5am lock-ins, drug accusations and a man unconscious in an alley put Tulketh Tap on brink of losing licence

Posted on - 9th July, 2024 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Lancashire Police, Preston Council, Preston Locations, Preston News, Pubs, Tulketh
Tulketh Tap Room. Credit: Blog Preston
Tulketh Tap Room. Credit: Blog Preston

Preston’s licensing subcommittee will this week hear claims of drug dealing, violence and after hours boozing at a troubled micropub.

The subcommittee will meet on Wednesday in response to a request from Lancashire Constabulary to review the licence of Tulketh Tap Room. If it is suitably concerned by the allegation, it can implement sanctions ranging up to as much as stripping the licence.

The review was requested by licensing officer PC Ste Connolly after a man was found unconscious in an alleyway near to the rear entrance of the Tulketh Brow bar on May 5. It was initially claimed the man had not been served beer in the shop but CCTV footage showed he had in fact been drinking there shortly before the assault. Further enquiries by PC Connolly have found a string of other alleged licensing breaches at the venue.

Read more: Popular Garstang bar set to almost double in size

Ahead of the meeting, submissions have been made by members of the public containing allegations of drug use and dealing at the premises. Liz Wallace-Mills, Senior Licensing Technician at the council, has also contributed a detailed report which concluded that revoking the licence is the “most appropriate action in this case”.

The issues she raised date back to September 2023 when she visited the bar to explain its licence was no longer valid as the annual renewal fee was six months overdue. One month later, the bill still hadn’t been paid but the bar had continued operation unlawfully.

Other issues raised in Ms Wallace-Mills’ report CCTV which only works when motion activated; a complete lack of legally-required documentation; breaches of rules surrounding music; absence of door staff; and the sales of drinks to be taken off-site.

On this point, and others, Ms Wallace-Mills said there appeared to be a complete failure of understanding from licence holder and manager Ray Woods. She wrote: “Mr Woods stated that he thought it was ok to transfer drinks to plastic glasses if they are to be taken off the premises. I pointed out Annex 3, condition 6 in his licence which states that customers must not leave with open containers. 

“He was confused by this and said he thought that is why he has plastic glasses on the premises. He then asked what the point of plastic glasses if customers can’t leave with drinks.”

In relation to the incident which left a man unconscious, she wrote: “Mr Woods told us that the victim of the attack arrived at the premises after 22.00, and was not served any alcohol by staff, though he was given a glass of water. 

“He stated that another customer must have given him a bottle of beer. However, CCTV footage showed the bar staff serving him a bottle of beer at 22.20.”

The issues of late night drinking was also raised by the licensing chief. She wrote: “We surveyed various other CCTV clips, and found various our of hours sales, and “lock ins” – one on 4th May 2024 continued to after 5am. Mr Woods stated that he thought it was fine to have a lock in as long as no money is taken and all the drinks are free.”

She goes on to state that PC Connolly advised that partying with his friends may not be illegal,
but it does leave Mr Woods open to complaints and concerns. “I pointed out that he has previously told us that he serves alcohol after hours and takes payment the following day, therefore it is conceivable that that is what is happening during these lock ins.

“Mr Woods denied this, stating that he doesn’t charge his friends for alcohol, but he acknowledged how it would look.”

She also raised concerns that John McGee, who is the sole director of Tulketh Tap Room Ltd, has stated that he did not know that he was still a director, did not know that he was still the licence holder, and has had no involvement with the premises for well over a year.

Multiple submissions were also made by neighbours who allege long-running problems of anti-social behaviour and the use and dealing of drugs at the bar. One wrote: “It seems to be a magnet for trouble I feel it’s only a matter of time before someone is actually killed in there.”

Days after the licensing review was launched, the bar was forced to close down when the landlord seized the property back. It reopened two weeks later, with a Facebook post explaining that new management was now in place.

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