Customers snorted drugs behind Morecambe pub bar
A pub where customers snorted cocaine behind the bar from a slate will be able to operate with new owners who have a zero drugs policy.
The Bradford Arms in Morecambe had its premises licence suspended after undercover police were dealt drugs by door staff and the pub manager.
At a review of the licence, Bravo Inns II Ltd, the new owners of the pub, who were unaware of the drug dealing that took place before the licence was transferred to them, can keep their licence but with conditions.
Managing director of Bravo Inns II Ltd, Ken Buckley, said: “We are professional and we will carry out all that has been outlined. The Bradford Arms is our 40th acquisition and we spend more on the refurbishment than the acquisition.
“We set the highest of standards which we challenge our managers to meet.
“We operate a zero tolerance policy to drugs, if anyone is caught taking or dealing drugs they are barred for life from our premises.
“A name change is a good idea for the pub and we want to run a competition in the local press.
“Wherever there is a Pubwatch we insist our managers join and attend.
“We will speak to licensing and police on a regular basis and will be guided by them.”
Licensing officer Andy Taylor told the Licensing Act sub-committee that police had carried out an undercover drugs operation at the Bradford Arms between October 11 and November 24, 2016 as a result of a local tip-off of drug dealing involving door staff and the manager.
An undercover officer was dealt drugs six times by staff on the premises.
PC Andy Taylor said: “Customers waiting for drugs asked the door staff and the person was allowed inside.
“Drugs were brought from upstairs and money was exchanged.
“The drugs were prepared on a slate that was kept behind the bar and people were taking the drugs behind the bar with their backs to the cameras.
“At 5am on March 16 police had to force entry into the property and the drugs were believed to have been flushed down the toilet.
“One of the people arrested was the manager of the pub.
“There are people still on bail looking at some charges.”
The licensing sub-committee heard that previous owners W.Licensing from Gateshead were letting the pub go and it was in a poor state of disrepair and decor.
The previous owners were also cutting corners on licensing objectives.
Bravo Inns representatives Mark Dean and Ken Buckley met with licensing officers and police and agreed there would be a complete refurbishment of the pub, a name change and all new staff.
PC Andy Taylor said: “We have replaced old conditions on the licence with strict new ones.
“This might be what Morecambe needs and other businesses might follow suit.
“Morecambe itself is suffering with decline and some of the premises are looking tired.
“We want to work with owners and businesses to look at ways to tackle drug dealing and crime and bring back Morecambe to its former glory.”
Police have imposed a number of conditions in order for Bravo Inns II Ltd to keep their licence, which include a Challenge 25 scheme, a proof of age scheme, staff training in age related products, proper CCTV equipment to be installed and maintained and images retained for 30 days.
There should be appropriate signage informing customers that CCTV is recording, there will be weekly documented checks of the CCTV system and footage will be made available to police or an authorised officer within a reasonable time.
On Friday and Saturday nights, there will be a minimum of two trained door staff on duty and no customer can leave the premises with drinks. A drugs policy must be in place and positive action taken when drugs are found.
The sub-committee agreed that the Bradford Arms had been used for the supply of Class A drugs but noted that the current licence holder only took over the licence in February 2017 and accepts the company were unaware of the offences which took place before the transfer to them and had no connection to any wrongdoing.
They granted the licence with strict conditions as a means of upholding the licensing objectives.
The refurbishment of the Bradford Arms will start on April 19 and will finish in June, said Bravo Inns II Ltd.