Chairman apologises after meeting adjourned in pub dispute over opening a beer garden

THE chairman of Fenland District Council apologised after a licensing committee called to debate changes to a pub licence was halted when officials failed to issue correct briefing notes.

Councillor Ralph Butcher said he was “embarrassed” by the omission and apologised for the error which he said “will not be allowed to happen again”.

The September meeting called to discuss changes at the Sportsman, Chatteris, will now go ahead on Friday.

Committee chairman Jan French called a halt to last month’s meeting after taking a 35 minute break for legal advice when it became clear not everyone attending had been properly briefed.

Today’s meeting will consider an alleged series of “nuisance logs” compiled by local resident Sandra Ashley documenting noise and anti social behaviour caused by people attending the pub.

So bad has the alleged nuisance become, she said, that “there is no way I can escape the noise and listen to my television. I have recently purchased an adaptor to enable me to use headphones when trying to listen to my television. Hopefully this will give me some form of respite from the continual noise which I experience when there is a function going on.”

However Lydia Payne and Steven Jevon who run the pub have refuted the allegations and said that when police had been called to the pub following complaints by Mrs. Ashley “they have found nothing to warrant a call out”.

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The licensees want the outside of the pub to be included in their license so they can open a beer garden and a smoking area.

Lydia and Steven also refute claims by Mrs Ashley to be acting on behalf of other residents and will provide the committee with a petition from six nearby residents in favour of the changes.

Council officials say there have been no other objections to the changes but the committee must decide the issue since they have been unable to “negotiate away” the comments raised by Mrs Ashley.

In one note kept by Mrs Ashley on July 23 she alleges the noise was so bad “in the end I lost my rag and phoned pub. I had had enough and she (Lydia) was welcome to buy my home but I would still be objecting to her licensing application.

“I told her she was driving me out of my home. I don’t think it went down well. Went to bed with earplugs to block out noise.”