Gateshead pub could be stripped of alcohol licence amid claims it broke lockdown rules

A bustling pub could lose its licence amid claims customers were allowed inside during lockdown while dozens more packed into the beer garden. Police were told there were "cars and taxis pulling up every 30 seconds" outside The Ship, in Eighton Banks, Gateshead. And even after pubs reopened, the boozer was accused of flouting its own social distancing rules as punters crowded the bar.

A new Gateshead Council report reveals that Northumbria Police were called 14 times during lockdown as people worried about social distancing measures in place at the venue. A review will now be held into the Punch Taverns pub's licence, which one complainant dubbed "an infection nightmare". Neither Punch Taverns or licence holder Connor Millican immediately responded to a request for comment.

During lockdown, the pub sold takeaway beer. However, it posted on Facebook that it was stopping after council officers found large crowds gathering outside.

The Ship said it would stop serving takeaway alcohol after police were called over reports people were gathering outside

However, council papers outline a string of complaints against the venue over several weeks, One person even complained to Punch Taverns directly, stating: "(The Ship) sold pints in plastic glasses which are not takeaway containers and allowed people inside the pub.

"And because there were no toilet facilities customers were urinating on neighbouring properties which fuelled many more complaints. This is a small community and the residents are fed up with their behaviour."

Gateshead pub could be stripped of alcohol licence amid claims it broke lockdown rulesPictures from a Gateshead Council report show people inside and outside The Ship, in Eighton Banks. There is a review into the pub's licence

According to the police complaint the gatherings started with groups of cyclists using the pub's benches to sit and rest on.

That escalated to larger groups using the benches to drink their own alcohol before the force was bombarded with messages on May 27 comparing the scenes outside to a bank holiday weekend. Rumours swirled that the pub was hosting a party that night,while an anonymous text to police text stated it had been open all day and had been "chocca block...disgusting". Mr Millican maintained he was simply selling drinks for people to take home but police gave him a dressing down while Gateshead Council served the venue with a Community Protection warning and closed the beer garden.

Gateshead pub could be stripped of alcohol licence amid claims it broke lockdown rulesPictures from a Gateshead Council report show people inside and outside The Ship, in Eighton Banks.

There is a review into the pub's licence

In a letter of support for the licence review the police took further aim at Mr Millican stating the time it took for him to act in moving people on was "much prolonged and to the detriment of the Government's efforts to protect public safety" during the pandemic, which has so far claimed over 45,000 British lives. Gateshead Council launched the review, amid concerns management "put the safety of the public at risk during a time where stringent measures should have been in place". The authority also has concerns Mr Millican - who took charge in January - wasn't able to show them CCTV footage "as he didn't know how to".

Gateshead pub could be stripped of alcohol licence amid claims it broke lockdown rulesPictures from a Gateshead Council report show people inside and outside The Ship, in Eighton Banks.

There is a review into the pub's licence

A decision will be made by the council's licencing sub-committee on August 4. The committee will also hear further evidence submitted by a customer after lockdown who was stunned to see crowds of people gathering at the bar - just weeks after the "last fiasco".

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"Again there was no social distancing being adhered to," they said. "They had signs on the bar saying there was no bar service and tape on the floor which should not have been crossed.

None of this was being enforced. "There were crowds of people being served at the bar all stood together with no attempt to move them on and most definitely no sanitising being performed. "One person after another after another touching the bar with the staff handing drinks directly to customers by hand with no PPE or cleaning being performed.

An infection nightmare."

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