A ‘SELFISH’ pub landlord insists a high-ranking policeman who outed his venue for serving while the country is on lockdown means it has been ‘blown out of all proportion.’
People may have been told by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stay at home but it seems that did not seem to stop The Billy Goat in Mossley, which lies two miles from Tameside Hospital.
Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, took the step of publicly naming the premises on radio for still serving in what is believed to have been a gathering of bar staff and people who live there.
“Stop it,” he barked to the pub. “You are putting people’s lives at risk, as well as being very, very selfish to the wider community.”
But licensee Victor Bowers hit back, insisting Chief Con Hopkins is making a mountain out of a molehill.
The Billy Goat has even been defended, with some arguing on Facebook that ‘a private party for a few people’ posed not as big a threat as allowing children of key workers into nearby St George’s Primary School.
Tameside Council, which controls The Billy Goat’s licence, is set to hold a review hearing in the coming months.
But Mr Bowers said: “We’re not opening at all. It’s been blown out of all proportion.”
Chief Con Hopkins also revealed GMP is getting reports of a pub in Bolton letting people in through its back door and is ‘blatantly flouting’ licensing laws.
He added: “They will have their licence revoked.”
Despite that, he believes any court action against pubs that continue to serve customers should be done through civil action rather than criminal action.
He said: “My personal view is any legal action should be done through a civil recourse rather than a police resource.
“I’ve got plenty of other things to go on.”
The Billy Goat, which stands on Stamford Street in Mossley, was outed as 35 licensed premises were visited by either police or Tameside Council officers in the borough to make sure lockdown rules are being obeyed.
“The visits were intelligence driven and also with the gut feeling that something wasn’t right,” explained Cllr David Sweeton, chair of the authority’s speakers’ panel (liquor licencing).
“This is a public health matter and people are taking the mickey.
“If pubs and licensed premises have lock-ins and entrance by the back door, it will not be tolerated.
“We can legally prosecute with fines and imprisonment and, once this emergency is over, we will take steps to remove their liquor licences.”