Billy Goat gets go ahead to reopen

A MOSSLEY pub that was stripped of its licence after breaking Covid-19 lockdown laws can reopen – despite residents’ concerns.

But the management in charge of The Billy Goat when it was raided by police cannot go in the premises.

After more than a year of having its doors closed when Tameside Council revoked its licence, a new one has been granted at the second time of asking.

However, it comes with a list of stringent conditions, including one that states the former licence holder Victor Bowers and manager Kathleen O’Neil, must not enter the premises at any time.

Nor can they be employed by, nor act on behalf of those now in charge in any capacity whatsoever whether directly or indirectly nor provide any services.

No-one is allowed to smoke at the front of the property either and its beer garden will close at 9pm and only be used as a smoking area afterwards.

After one application for a licence was turned down in April, a meeting of Tameside Council’s Speakers Panel (Liquor Licensing) committee heard Matthew Johnson state his case to ‘correct things that have gone wrong in the past.’

The 41-year-old, of Dobcross, is a member of the family that owns the Stockport Road building and will employ David Fisher as his manager or Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).

Several residents living close to The Billy Goat voiced their concerns, ranging from the reputation the venue had under previous management to the state of the building meaning noise cannot be mitigated.

Speaking anonymously, they said: “We’re not objecting to the opening of the pub per se.

“However, the licence wasn’t revoked because of our concerns but for Covid-19 regulations, so we’re very, very concerned.

“And the state of building means the escape of noise is almost inevitable. There’s a whole lot of investment needed.”

Meetings between residents and Mr Johnson took place in July but the overall feeling was conditions did not go far enough.

And in letters to the council voicing objections, it was stated: “We feel it is especially important that the former practice of people using The Billy Goat for a last drink before closing after spending all evening at other establishments be curtailed.

“We acknowledge that the pub has a long history in the area, but we are concerned with our quality of life in the present and the future.

“I genuinely feel if this pub re-opens with a live music license it will directly affect us massively. The thought of noise travelling from this establishment fills me with dread!

“This pub does not look fit for purpose, the building premises are in a poor state of repair. It looks like an accident waiting to happen especially if used as a social venue for groups to gather.”

However, Mr Johnson – who was The Billy Goat’s licensee from 2008-2011 – told the meeting: “Mr Bowers’ lease ended in June when he became in breach of contract.

“He and Kath O’Neil will not be allowed on the premises and will not have nothing to do with the pub going forward.

“The Johnson family had no contact with the police or local authority with regards to issues with the premises.

“This included the breach of Covid-19 regulations, which the family was only made aware of through publicity on social media.

“Under this application, things will change. With the right management it’s well placed to become a hub of the community in Mossley.

“We commit to working with our neighbours to make sure the pub becomes an asset. We just want to make a success of this and correct things that have gone wrong in the past.”

Mr Fisher, who lives in Mossley, added: “I’ve worked all over the country, mainly focusing on turning around problematic or launching closed down venues.

“This is along the same lines of what I do for a living and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

When granting the licence application, with the list of conditions that had been agreed between Mr Johnson and the council, chair of the panel, Cllr Dolores Lewis, said: “There has been a serious impact on local residents arising from the poor management of the premises over a number of years.

“However, the applicant cannot be held responsible for the actions and misdemeanours of the previous licence holder and designated premises supervisor.”

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