March 10 2014 Latest news:
John Elworthy, Editor - reporting from Fenland Hall
Thursday, January 16, 2014
A decision on what action – if any- to be taken against a Fenland publican after a councillor called for a review of his licence has been postponed.
Fenland Council licensing committee decided today to adjourn a review hearing following protests by publican Nigel Marsh that some case papers had been submitted too late for him to respond.
Kit Owen, the councillor who called for the review into the licence for Georges in March High Street, argued that Mr Marsh had been given sufficient time but the committee felt a delay was reasonable.
The hearing will now take place on February 12 after committee chairman Kay Mayor announced that the extra time would enable Mr Marsh “to obtain legal advice because of CCTV evidence”. She added that it would be “beneficial to all parties to consider this information”.
The latest footage of an alleged incident outside of Georges, from last Saturday, has been obtained by this newspaper and Mr Marsh is insistent it simply shows him “doing my job properly”.
Mr Marsh says the eight minute film shows “licensing enforcement is completely out of touch with what is and what is not an incident. I have been told by a former publican who studied it that my handling of the ‘incident’ ought to be standard text book training for any would be landlord.”
He explained that CCTV had picked up on a 23 year-old man who met his mother at Georges after not having seen her for 13 years.
“There were heated voices and he was calling her certain words,” said Mr Marsh. “The man had bumped into her whilst he was in town; I was there, moved it along, and spoke to family members. These sorts of things happen. The police were not called but later I did report it to police in case they needed to move them on at a later date.”
He said: “I wouldn’t call it an incident.”
Mr Marsh said he had now asked Fenland Council to advise him of their protocol in using footage “without input from the police, the pub landlord, fire service or anyone else. In my view the council should not be enforcing based simply on CCTV- they should be asking what happened and the first expert on what happened is the landlord and the second is the police who can investigate.”
Mr Marsh has already suspended live music at Georges pending the outcome of the latest review and fears one outcome could be an insistence he uses doormen after 10pm which could cost up to £120 a night. He says such a cost would make running the live music venue impossible.
Chris and Jamie Wilcox who live opposite the pub have kept a detailed log of noise and other alleged incidents at the pub and were at Fenland Hall today to give evidence.
In supporting documentation they claim to have witnessed fights outside Georges and experienced loud music disturbing their sleep.
Other letters to the council have made similar complaints although nearly 500 people have signed letters in support of Mr Marsh and his efforts to keep live music in the town.
Support for Mr Marsh has also been forthcoming from town councillor Stephen Court who described Georges as “a very good example of a community based pub with the landlord’s family being very proactive in the way that it is run for the people of March.”