Review hearing reprieve for Bolton Covid raid pub

LANDLORDS at a pub caught serving beer during lockdown – who received a wave of support from the community – have been allowed to carry on trading.

Police in Bolton carried out an enforcement exercise at the Unity Brook Inn, in Kearsley, on November 6 last year, a review hearing was told.

And officers found the Manchester Road hostelry was continuing to welcome drinkers despite lockdown restrictions.

Later a fixed penalty notice was issued to general manager George Kirby for the offence, which was initially contested but later paid.

In the wake of the raid, a licensing review hearing was called by Bolton Council, which prompted letters of support for the venue from people involved with Kearsley’s scarecrow and Christmas tree festivals, and the local In Bloom group.

Forty people signed a petition at Kearsley Mount Methodist Church, backing the pub’s community work, and ward councillor Paul Heslop also spoke out on their behalf.

Watch manager Andrew Kopicki, of Bolton North fire station, also wrote to the panel, highlighting the pub’s community work.

The review application stated the breach “had put the welfare of staff, customers, attending police, council officers and the wider members of the public in danger of contracting a potentially fatal illness at a time when the UK had been placed int ‘Stay at Home’ measures”.

Chris Grunert, solicitor for owners Trust Inns, told the review panel Mr Kirby had been a tenant at the Unity Brook for nine years without incident.

He had been given a final written warning over his conduct, said Mr Grunert, and accepted he “should have known better” than to serve alcohol at that time and wished to apologise for his actions.

Cllr Heslop also said the pub was a “community hub”and heavily involved in local fundraising work.

Councillors were told that the landlord had taken on a number of jobs during lockdown and the two people who were with him at the time police arrived were work colleagues.

Mr Kirby said no money had been taken for the drinks served and the till was open

He had later informed the licence holder of the breach, the meeting was told.

The review panel, after taking into account the letters of support and representations, decided to take no further action against the licence holder.

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