Whittlesey landlady Kerrie vows to defend her pub’s name after allegations of underage drinking and drug dealing
- Credit: Archant
A Whittlesey pub could have its licence revoked after allegations of drug taking, drug dealing, underage drinking and fighting – claims which are strenuously denied by the landlady.
The future of the Railway Inn will be decided at a licence review on September 15.
Kerrie Facer, who has run the pub for almost four years, says police regularly attend the pub and have never found drugs or evidence of underage drinking. The pub has provided police with CCTV footage at times of alleged fights to prove they did not occur, she said.
Pc Phil Richardson, in his licence review application, said: “The public house has come in for a number of public order incidents, crimes and other incidents which have occurred in the vicinity and or on the premises.
“There is intelligence which has been received by the police suggesting underage drinking at the pub and drug taking and dealing at the pub.
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“There have also been complaints by local residents regarding noise coming from the venue and customers of the pub causing noise, damage and litter in the area as they head out of the area.
“It has now been evidenced that crime and disorder have been committed at the pub and is continuing, persons walking past the pub have been put in fear of their lives when threatened by drinkers at the venue, nuisance has been caused to a number of residents as a direct consequence of the pub and its patrons and that there is intelligence indicating that children are drinking at the pub which could place them at risk of harm.”
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The single mother-of-five says the pub has done everything in their power to “satisfy” the licensing team, including reducing their licensing hours.
She says her pub has a policy of accepting everybody and she is “unaware” of drug dealers on the premises.
She said: “We regularly have police attend at all times of day and we have never failed a drug swap test. Every time police have attended and ID’d customers, they have never found anyone underage drinking.
“If police think someone in the pub is a drug dealer, why haven’t they given me a name or an image? Together, we could have worked to filter them out. They are suggesting I’m allowing it to happen. I’m confident there are no drug dealers in my pub, and if there are, they have certainly not made themselves known to me.”
Ms Facer says she goes out of her way to be “respectful” of residents, including carrying out litter sweeps of the pub’s perimeter.
She said: “I’ve got quite a good rapport with most of the residents. I’m aware living near a pub noise is always going to be issue.
“We close the external doors and keep the windows shut after 10pm because we like to be respectful and courteous.
“After a business Friday night, on the Saturday morning, I check the perimeter to make sure there are no glasses or bottles left. I sweep up Stella and Budweiser glasses and we don’t even stock those products.
“There is a community park across the road from me. Admittedly there is rubbish there – and it is disgusting – but it’s not from the pub.”
Reports of fights at the pub are untrue and police are given the CCTV footage to prove it, Ms Facer says.
She said: “I’ve given over hours and hours and hours of CCTV footage. There was an anonymous call suggesting there’s been a brawl with 20 people in the pub. I provided them with CCTV footage to prove it’s not the case.
“Every weekend for the last nine or 10 weeks, police have turned up saying they have been getting anonymous calls about fighting in my pub.
“When police attend they see for themselves we are either closed or there are happy customers drinking, who are happy to confirm there’s never been any trouble or incidents. Police are given permission to walk around and speak to customers.
“On one night, officers showed up and one lady officer was quite aggressive. She said ‘shame the fight ended’ when there was no fight. We provided seven hours of CCTV footage to prove it.
“She said I made four 999 calls when in fact I was not at the premises – I was walking a customer home. The pub was closed. When I’m not at the pub, there’s a named DPS in my absence.
“She said to my brother, who was in charge, he was intoxicated. He was DJing and had not been drinking. He tried to explain but he has quite a bad speech impediment and she wasn’t willing to listen.”
The landlady is angry about the accusations of underage drinking at the pub, which, once more, she says, are without foundation.
She said: “When police show up, nine times out of 10 it’s at kicking out time. Often there are people around but there are never any arguments or disturbances. One officer, in a statement, said she believed some people on the site looked 12. If she thought that, and believed they were on my premises, didn’t she have a duty of care to check?
“The truth is there is nobody of that age on my premises or receiving alcohol from me or any of the staff on the premises.
“Everything that’s apparently reported – there’s never any evidence for it. There’s a witch hunt towards me.”
Before taking over the Railway Inn, Ms Facer ran a pub in Spalding. Before now, she has had “very good” relationships with police, she says.
She said: “This is not my first pub. I grew up in the business. I’ve never had problems like this. I’ve never had problems with police before. There are certain local officers I have very good relationships with. Police know they are welcome in my pub.”
She believes, had there been a dialogue between her and Pc Richardson, things would not have got to this stage. Now, she says she is not only fighting for the future of the pub, but also for the future of her home.
She said: “Phil Richardson refuses to meet with me. He should approach me. I’m very approachable. I have a fantastic relationship with my customers, who support and back me.
“If he came and spoke to me, we could work through this, and, if there is some truth in anything alleged, we could work together to filter it out. But we are in fact pulling apart, at completely different ends of the scale.
“Phil Richardson tried to tell child services he believes my children are at risk. The social worker was very pleasant and sympathetic towards me and is satisfied that my children are not at any risk.
“They think they can bully me, push me out through the back door. If I leave without fighting this it suggests I’m guilty, when I’m not.
“Whatever Phil Richardson thinks he’s going to achieve, he hasn’t taken into consideration I’m a single parent with five children. This is their home, which provides them a happy life.
“There are also members of staff who rely on me and wonderful regulars I have become very good friends with. A lot of them are elderly and I don’t think there is anywhere else for them. For them alone, I need to fight this closure notice.
“Phil Richardson has made it very clear if I walk away he will quash the notice. But, if I walk away, I look guilty. I’ll have to uproot my children from home and pull away from a life we enjoy and want to continue living.”