Snipe allowed to reopen – but told it must change

A PUB from which a cannabis farm was seized has been allowed to reopen under new management.

But the new people in charge of The Snipe and brewery owners Robinsons have been told in no uncertain terms things must change.

Police removed 10 cannabis plants from the living quarters of venue on Manchester Road, Audenshaw on July 6.

Its licence was suspended a day later and it had remained closed since – but Tameside Council’s Speakers Panel (Liquor Licensing) committee has granted a new one.

The Snipe pub on the day police raided

However, opening hours are reduced and conditions have been imposed, including door staff to be on duty whenever a Manchester United or Manchester City football match is shown.

Former tenant Sarah Harwood, her partner James Fox and ex-designated premises supervisor Geoff Lee are also not allowed on the premises.

A hearing on Wednesday, August 11 heard of a long list of issues relating to The Snipe before the drugs raid.

On October 9, officers found the failure to ensure effective social distancing controls were in place.

The Snipe, Audenshaw

On October 15, The Snipe played host to a live stream of a funeral with about 20 customers attending and food being delivered from an outside caterer.

At the time, people were unable to gather and meet indoors. There were exemptions for wakes, but this could be for no more than 15.

Regulations at the time also required that any food or drink must be ordered from and served to a customer who remains seated.

After that, Tameside Council served a direction notice requiring The Snipe close immediately, which it did until April 12.

Once it reopened, though, a 999 call on May 29 reported fighting in the beer garden and on June 12, a brawl involving 30 people was reported.

A search of logs found no fewer than 20 incidents concerning The Snipe had been reported since the start of 2021, including stabbings, car thefts and fights.

The drugs find was the straw that broke the camel’s back, with 10 mature plants being grown, the electric meter being bypassed and large sum of money being seized, leading Chief Superintendent Rachael Harrison to sign a certificate saying pub associated with serious crime.

PC Martin Thorley, of Greater Manchester Police, told the hearing: “Despite my concerns, Robinsons did to stick with the operator who was complicit in allowing criminality to take place in the premises.

“But I do believe Robinsons have had the wool pulled over their eyes and have put their trust in the tenant.

“As a company, I believe they were totally unaware of what was going on behind closed doors but I cannot blame bricks and mortar for the catalogue of crime and disorder associated with The Snipe.

“The premise has attracted the wrong clientele for some time, this clientele has no respect for authority.

“It’s imperative the new management changes the way its managed and it remains free of serious incidents.

“I welcome the proposals but we cannot get away from the fact serious crime has taken place there.

“It’s hoped Robinsons are true to their word and run this premise with the intention of displacing the clientele, who thrive on bringing criminality.

“The Snipe will continue to be visited regularly.”

Joanna McKenna will take over the running of The Snipe until it is felt it is in a ‘stable position’ and vowed to turn things around, saying she will stop live entertainment and live sport for the time being.

And Samantha Ford, a solicitor acting for Robinsons, said: “Our actions will eradicate the past issues.

“The incidents were clearly the result of the wrong clientele, a clientele Robinsons does not want.

“We need to take serious steps to change the operating style and quick. We’ve given a lot. The issue here was a tenant and Robinsons have removed that issue. We’ve completely turned around the premises.”

Chair of the panel, Cllr Dolores Lewis, granted the licence application saying: “We were satisfied that additional conditions would be sufficient.

“But we expect there will be much closer monitoring and liaison between the licence holder and the authorities.”

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