A HYDE pub that was closed after a man suffered brain trauma in a vicious assault and saw people drinking there until 7am during lockdown will reopen.
Owd Joss on Market Street has been shut since the incident on July 13 and was described as ‘challenging.’
But it has been given another chance after licensing chiefs agreed to let it operate once a new manager has been found, with stricter conditions.
And it is hoped a couple will take it on after the previous licensee, or designated premises supervisor (DPS), Sean Wilkinson was fired after being deemed to have ‘failed miserably.’
Tameside Council’s Speakers Panel (Liquor Licensing) committee heard concerns rose on July 13 when one man was knocked unconscious by another, who then stamped on its head.
It also heard how previously, paramedics expressed their concern to Greater Manchester Police after treating a woman who told them she had been drinking in the Owd Joss until 7am.
Owners Hawthorn Leisure had already taken the decision to close after dismissing Mr Wilkinson before Tameside Council suspended the licence as an ‘interim step.’
Now they have won their fight to keep the premises open, with conditions including a tamper proof CCTV system being installed, all paperwork and log books being completed and much improved staff training.
Head of the committee, Cllr Dave Sweeton, said: “The panel was satisfied that additional conditions would sufficiently promote the licensing objectives.
“It’s a proportionate response to the incident on July 13.
“Closer monitoring is a common thread through the conditions imposed and we expect much closer monitoring and liaison between the licence holder and authorities in the appointment of a DPS and the management of the premises going forward.”
Tameside Council’s head of licensing, Michael Robinson, and PC Martin Thorley of GMP outlined why the Owd Joss had been closed.
Mr Robinson said at the time of the incident: “One member of staff was working at the time but when police arrived, they found her to be drunk.”
PC Thorley, who showed CCTV of staff not dealing with the incident which he felt failed to stop the assault occurring, added: “This pub has had 11 incidents recorded in the last 12 months, four of which were assault.
“In my opinion, I see the Owd Joss as a challenging pub.
“I hope that with strong management, these premises can run effectively in the future and incidents like this can be avoided or managed.
“I believe the pub needs someone with experience.”
Council and police officers met with Hawthorn Leisure on July 28 and agreed conditions, with the authorities insisting on door staff every Friday and Saturday night while the company wanted a clause stating that with prior agreement, they may not have to be in place every weekend.
That was agreed at the hearing.
However, they also wanted a personal alcohol licence holder to be on site whenever it was open, with Hawthorn believing that may not be necessary because of situations like illness, with a written record given instead.
And their lawyer Piers Warne successfully argued: “The only reason to remove the door staff condition would be, for instance, the Covid-19 crisis.
“Let’s say if you were in lockdown and could only do off sale. That condition would still compel you to have two door staff on a Friday and Saturday night, which would make it unsustainable to open.
“January is another good example, you simply don’t get custom. Door staff sometimes outnumber customers.
“So it’s if we find ourselves in that situation, an operator can go to the police and say, ‘We’re not expecting may people in this weekend, can we agree to one or no door staff for this particular weekend?’
“And the likelihood is we’d have a personal licence holder on duty for the majority of the time but the personal licence holder we had before didn’t do what his training had told him to do – the training actually is key.
“We don’t want to have to close the pub at short order because the personal licence holder is suddenly ill or gets called away because their father’s sick.
“And it’s not a legal requirement.”
Gemma Lee, of Tameside Council, told of the earlier incident on April 8 how the woman told paramedics she had ‘been drinking all day in the Owd Joss.’
She said: “It was established the DPS had a private party in the accommodation above the premises and had been drinking their own alcohol until 7am.
“They came downstairs to play pool and because of the coronavirus, that was not acceptable and not allowed at all.
“The authority has concerns the premises are failing to promote the licensing objectives, namely public safety.
“The DPS has been dismissed, however it doesn’t detract from the fact there was a problem there.
Mr Warne added, however: “We take these matters incredibly seriously. The private event was the DPS, who has now gone.
“He held his hands up and said he made a mistake. We closed the premises immediately and terminated the contract of the DPS.
“No-one wants a closed pub. However, we’re determined to get things right. As soon as we’re ready to introduce a new operator, we will.”
Mark Knibbs of Hawthorn Leisure is in the process of appointing a new DPS and ‘will not make a rash decision.’
“We don’t want to rush this,” he said. “We’re not quite there yet. We’ve been failed miserably by the DPS, we don’t want to make that mistake again.
“The premises will remain closed until we’ve found the right person.”