Fresh stand off as police foil plan to change locks at under siege pub

A WAR of words continued today between the man who insists he’s still landlord of a March pub, the police who insist he isn’t and the council who refuse to recognise him as landlord.

The pub’s owners could not be contacted for comment but a fax sent to Cambs Police on their behalf on Monday suggests Mr Marsh will have a fight on his hands if he wants to continue with his claims.

Today the George in March High Street remains closed although a 7am attempt to change the locks – instigated by Mr Marsh- failed. Workers employed by him had secured a locksmith to change locks at the pub but when they arrived police were on hand to prevent access.

Inside the pub were Stephen and Marion Smith who, according to Criterion Asset Management – the company looking after the George on behalf of the Wellington Pub Company- are the rightful prospective licensees.

Meanwhile Mr Marsh has lodged complaints against the police for their handling of the case and he has also filed complaints to the licensing authority, Fenland District Council.

Mr Marsh remains barred from visiting the pub in person- one of his bail conditions imposed last Friday for an alleged breach of the peace is an order restraining him from entry to the pub for 28 days.

He is also facing claims of assault on a police officer but that has failed to deter him as he makes repeated telephone calls and personal visits to council offices and to March Police Station to pursue his cause. He has also enlisted the help of a London firm of solicitors.

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As the stand off continues, the doors of the George stay shut, the curtains stay closed, and a well publicised promotion for this Sunday’s St George’s Day festival in March looks doubtful.

Meanwhile Colin Summers of Criterion insists Wellington Pub Company plc confirming want Mr Smith as the “sole named premises licence holder” even though Mr Marsh contends he has a bona fide lease on the pub.

And with no approval of a license in site for anyone to run the pub, Mr Summers insists it remains closed until the matter is resolved.

Mr Marsh today issued CCTV images of the moment Mick Gipp, safer manager for Fenland but also a former police superintendant, arrived at the pub on Friday and shortly before he was barred from re-entry.

A spokesman confirmed Mr Gipp disconnected the cameras shortly after he arrived and “at the request of Mrs Smith. On the day of the visit, the Wellington Pub Company had once again insisted it was Mr and Mrs Smith they wanted to be the premises licence holders and Designated Premises Supervisor.

“The Smiths wanted the cameras turned off because they could be accessed by Mr Marsh from home and they didn’t want him watching them because they feel intimidated by him.

“The camera system is being replaced in line with their wishes.”

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