Whilst Nigel Marsh fumes over closed pub, Fenland council says his bid for licence must wait for ‘statutory consultation’

FENLAND District Council rebutted claims today that it is blocking plans by businessman Nigel Marsh to re-open The George public house, March.

A council spokesman said: “We have received an application to transfer the premises license to Georges, March Limited, a company we understand is owned by Mr Marsh. “This application is being processed in accordance with the legislation. At present the statutory consultation period has yet to expire and no determination can be made until this has concluded.”

The spokesman said the premises licence was transferred to Steve Smith earlier this year “following his application and in line with legislation. Mr Marsh originally lodged an appeal to the magistrates’ court against that decision but later withdrew that appeal.”

The spokesman added that last week’s magistrates hearing – which cleared Mr Marsh of assault- was not about the premises licence “ and has no impact on the way Fenland District Council is handling this pending application.”

However Mr Marsh is furious since he believes the council is blocking his bid to re-open the pub and told the council that their refusal “is not accepted.”

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He said he had urged the council to review the case and respond quickly and if not he would take legal action against them.

“I urge you to please review this case and respond in a way in which the Licensing Act 2003 allows and authorises you to act,” he said.

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“Please be aware that we have now lost a day’s trading due to the comment received from the Fenland District Licensing Authority.

“If I do not receive your confirmation that the licence has been approved by midday Monday I will have to cancel our re-opening party and be assured that the losses incurred from that event will become an issue for litigation.”

On Friday Mr Marsh accused Fenland Council of being “disingenuous” in blocking his efforts to get a licence to run The George public house.

He said his lawyers had written to the council in a bid to break a deadlock that has seen Mr Marsh legally win back control of the pub whilst the former tenants- ousted on Thursday- refuse to surrender the licence.

Mr Marsh is buoyant after a judge at Peterborough magistrates’ last Wednesday cleared him of assaulting a police officer inside the pub.

Judge Roderick Hine described the attempts by police to remove Mr Marsh from the pub in April as “unlawful”.

In the subsequent melee Mr Marsh was sprayed with pepper and later spent the night in cells before being formally charged. Those charges have all been dismissed.

On Thursday Mr Marsh took back the pub whilst five Cambridgeshire PCSOs watched.

Meanwhile the couple, former associates of Mr Marsh, who have run The George since April, insist they will fight to keep him out.

Steve and Marion Smiths’ solicitors, Fraser Dawbarn, told Mr Marsh they have “no intention whatsoever to relinquish the premises licence to you whether this be by way of transfer or any other means.”

David deMaid, the solicitor acting for Mr Marsh, has told Fenland Council the Smiths had no legal right to be running the George having ceased to be directors in April of Mr Marsh’s company.

He told Fenland Council that Mr Smith holds a licence for premises to which he has no legal right to occupy and called upon them to recognise Mr Marsh’s legitimate right to trade.

Mr deMaid said Mr Marsh “has suffered enough financial disadvantage over the last six months by not being allowed to trade himself, and is not anxious for the pub to be left in limbo whilst this matter is debated.”

Kim Winterton, licensing officer for the council, is relying on provisions of the 2003 Licensing Act to prevent Mr Marsh from acquiring a licence.

A police spokesman said an internal inquiry had been launched and had taken note of the court’s decision.

Graham Elwood, Wellington Pub Company spokesman, said: “There have been contractual issues at The George and it is up to the parties involved to get the problems sorted.”

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