‘Family friendly’ pub in east Bristol which flouted Covid rules gets licence to sell booze back

The Bull Inn in Crew’s Hole lost its licence after causing neighbours ‘absolute sheer terror and horror’

A pub that lost its licence for causing neighbours ‘absolute sheer terror and horror’ and flouting Covid rules has had its right to serve pints restored, to the dismay of residents.

Bristol City Council, whose licensing sub-committee ruled last year The Bull Inn should be shut down following a request by the authority’s own neighbourhood enforcement team backed by the police, has reached an agreement allowing it to stay open.

A councillor who lives yards from the premises in Crew’s Hole accused the local authority of ‘stabbing residents in the back’ by not defending its decision last August at magistrates’ court after the pub launched an appeal.

The appeal case never got to a full hearing after being deferred several times, and the Local Democracy Reporting Service has learned a deal has now been struck to rescind the ruling by a panel of elected councillors and reinstate the licence with additional conditions.

The council says no further complaints have been made since then and the decision to cancel the premises licence revocation was made following legal advice and the input of the licensing sub-committee.

The Bull Inn has had its licence to sell booze reinstated - despite concern from locals

A source said the council understood it would ‘lose, and lose big’ and be ordered to pay costs, funded by the taxpayer, if it went before magistrates.

Speaking as a resident who lives near the pub, Lorraine Francis, city councillor for Eastville ward, said: “It feels as if the council has stabbed myself and other local residents in the back with this decision.

“It sets a shocking example to the rest of the city that this pub will be able to resume business as usual after repeatedly flouting lockdown and Covid restrictions over the last two years.

“Many residents have written to me over the past 10 months with complaints about noise pollution and the impact on their health and how they have struggled to be heard.

“But it feels like this decision is telling residents to shut up and put up – that is not acceptable.”

Giving evidence at last summer’s sub-committee hearing, Cllr Francis said her next-door neighbour had moved out as a direct result of the premises and there had been an escalation in antisocial behaviour and noise.

“It’s not a case of disgruntled neighbours opposing a pub, it’s the absolute sheer terror and horror being experienced by residents because of the pub,” she told members.

Avon & Somerset Police told the hearing officers spent a disproportionate amount of time at the premises dealing with disorder, nuisance, reports of mass brawls and alleged threats to cut throats.

They said management were rude and swore at officers attending incidents, while music was turned up after neighbours complained about noise.

But regulars submitted a petition at the City Hall meeting and told the panel the “much-loved community pub” should be saved,despite the council fining the establishment £1,000 and £2,000 for multiple Covid breaches, neither of which had been paid.

The Bull’s managers insisted they had been victims of false and malicious reports to police of dozens of people fighting and that officers would arrive to find no evidence of a disturbance.

They said they had turned it into a ‘family friendly’ venue after getting rid of a biker gang and a ‘drug element’.

Councillors revoked the licence on the grounds that the licensing objectives of public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder and of public nuisance were being undermined.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said today the decision to reinstate the licence prior to an appeal hearing was made following the ‘input of legal advice and the licensing sub-committee’.

They said: “The premises had been operating since the review hearing in August 2021, pending the outcome of an appeal.

“No further complaints relating to the licensing of the premises were received during that time.

“As part of the agreement additional licensing conditions have been added to the licence to better help manage the situation in future.”

They said the decision was made with regard to guidance in the Licensing Act which states the authority’s determination should be evidence-based, justified as appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives and proportionate to what it is intended to achieve.