A POLICE officer who was helping to ensure licensed premises complied with Covid rules was asked repeatedly to leave a pub in Llanelli by one of its tenants because there was an important pool match going on.
A Carmarthenshire Council licensing sub-committee was told that the tenant, Nigel Brain, then pushed PC Brian Merrigan out of the room and also pushed a female council officer who the constable was accompanying.
On another occasion a police car parked in the car park of the pub in question, the South Star, had a window smashed in.
The Brynallt Terrace pub has been the subject of many complaints, prompting Dyfed-Powys Police to request a review of its licence.
The licensing sub-committee heard evidence about the issues, including responses from the venue’s owners and those in charge on a day-to-day basis, before deciding to impose several conditions on the licence.
Reading from his written submission, police licensing officer David Bizby said PC Merrigan and the council officer undertook a routine visit of the South Star on the evening of September 11 this year.
Mr Bizby said PC Merrigan was talking to some customers while a pool match was under way when Mr Brain approached and asked him to leave.
The officer thought he was joking, said Mr Bizby, but Mr Brain kept repeating it.
Mr Brain, according to Mr Bizby, said: “Can you leave my pub there’s a match going on and there’s money at stake.”
PC Merrigan tried unsuccessfully to reason with Mr Brain, who raised his arms and tried to usher him out through the door.
Mr Bizby said the officer confirmed there was physical contact and that he was pushed out of the room.
Mr Bizby said the pub’s other joint tenant, Lisa Davies, who had been talking to the council officer, came to apologise on behalf of Mr Brain.
Mr Bizby said that, according to the council officer, Mr Brain was “very irate” and used his arm to push her out as well.
He said PC Merrigan and the council employee, not willing to escalate the situation, told Ms Davies they would leave the pub but report the incident to the council’s licensing department.
A police sergeant then visited the pub twice to obtain CCTV footage, saying he was investigating an alleged assault. He was told cameras didn’t cover the internal area in question.
Mr Bizby said Mr Brain apologised to the sergeant for his “over the top” behaviour and that he would say sorry to PC Merrigan next time he saw him.
Mr Brain did not attend the remote hearing, but Ms Davies and the pub’s designated premises supervisor, Nigel Morgan, did.
Ms Davies said PC Merrigan had been standing right next to the pool table, where “a very important match was being played”, and that he had refused to go to a different room to talk when asked by Mr Brain.
“This is where Nigel then became a bit rude and he did ask him to leave,” she said.
The licensing sub-committee also heard that on May 2 this year there were five phone calls to police about the South Star, including reports of a large number of people fighting outside.
A noise was heard when a police officer attended the pub in response, and it was discovered that a building block had been thrown through his driver’s window while he was inside the venue. No-one has been apprehended.
The meeting was told there had been calls to police and the council about the pub on other occasions, including alleged non-compliance with Covid rules.
The council issued the South Star with a temporary closure notice in September 2020 due to a cluster of cases in the area and non-compliance with Covid rules. The notice was terminated five days later, but further non-compliance was identified during two routine inspections in the following weeks.
Ms Davies said a lot of the complaints about the pub related to customers drinking outside, and that this was was very difficult to manage.
“We tried our hardest,” she said.
She and designated premises supervisor Mr Morgan said they felt the pub had been treated unfairly about the Covid notice and made an example of.
Mr Morgan claimed someone who knew he had Covid visited several pubs in the area, including the South Star, and that on being made aware of the issue the South Star closed voluntarily for a deep clean.
The licensing sub-committee heard that meetings were arranged between the authorities and the pub’s tenants and its owners – a company called Maxico UK Ltd – and that several improvements had been made.
They were also told Mr Brain has stepped back from his role and that Mr Morgan, who has another job, was involved in its running more than previously.
After asking questions and then retiring to take legal advice, the sub-committee agreed to impose 13 conditions.
A representative of Maxico UK said he was happy with the conditions and that he would like to apologise to the authorities for the pool match incident.
“We will make sure such incidents don’t take place again,” he said.