A Brighton pub could face closure after a man was stabbed in a violent brawl the night before the latest coronavirus lockdown started.
Six people were arrested after the fight which is alleged to have involved about 20 people and spilt out of the Montpelier Inn, in Montpelier Place, on Wednesday 4 November.
A 40-year-old man was treated for serious injuries at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton.
After the brawl Sussex Police applied to Brighton and Hove City Council for an urgent interim review which was held privately and led to the suspension of the premises licence.
The force told the review, on Friday 13 November, that the pub was “associated with serious disorder”.
Next week a council licensing panel is due to hold a “virtual” hearing when three councillors will decide whether the pub can keep its licence.
The freehold owner of the premises, pub company Ei, formerly Enterprise Inns, said that the tenancy had been held by a local company called Rock and Roller Coaster since 1994.
Ei said that the tenancy was “currently being transferred we understand” – and according to Companies House, Rock and Roller Coaster was dissolved as a company last month.
It is also understood that the live-in landlord Ashur Mohamed, known as Ash, will no longer run the premises if it is allowed to keep its licence.
Sixteen neighbours sent letters to the council calling for the pub to be closed, with council officials and Green councillors Alex Phillips and Tom Druitt, who represent Regency ward, making similar comments.
Although Councillor Phillips wrote in her official capacity as a councillor on behalf of herself and Councillor Druitt, their names were redacted in the meeting papers for the review along with many other names.
Two people sent letters of support for the pub.
Councillor Phillips wrote: “Neither of us has ever experienced a case that comes remotely near to that of the Montpelier Inn.
“The problems associated with the pub include noise, anti-social behaviour, violence and drug-taking – and we have attempted to deal with them since at least 2018.
“The council brought the previous landlord to court and residents complain that the pub has had problems for over a decade.
“And unfortunately, due to the continual lack of action on the part of the management of the pub, the community has now experienced a stabbing which emanated from the pub itself.
“It is time for something definitive to be done before more damage is caused, more people are hurt and more lives are ruined.”
She said that they had also had complaints from neighbours about drug paraphernalia found outside the pub and people snorting cocaine.
The council’s environmental protection team listed 13 complaints received about noise from smokers outside the pub, “music blaring” and the sound of toilet cisterns filling and emptying all night.
Neighbours also complained that the pub’s customers broke the coronavirus rules about standing to drink when they should have been seated, shouting over the loud music and staff and customers walking around without face masks.
The council licensing department said that the pub’s licence was due to lapse because the company that held the licence, Rock and Roller Coaster, had been dissolved on Tuesday 17 November.
However, the annual fee was paid on that date.
An anonymous licensing officer, whose name was redacted, wrote to the council to say that the pub was “poorly run”.
He or she said: “Despite substantial officer interaction with this premises, including visits, advice and warnings regarding prevention of crime and disorder and prevention of public nuisance, it is my opinion that the premises are poorly run, there are breaches of the premises licence and the licensing objectives are not being upheld.
“I believe if the premises licence remains in place, there will be further problems occurring at the venue.”
At the licensing review hearing next week, the panel councillors will have a number of options. These include changing the conditions on the licence, removing the designated premise supervisor (DPS) who has day-to-day responsibility for alcohol sales at the pub, suspending the licence for up to three months or revoking it completely.
The agenda papers said: “Reviews represent a key protection for the community.
“Where style of operation of a premises leads to applications concerning likelihood of racist, religiously motivated, homophobic or transphobic crimes or incidents, the review process should also support the community safety policy.
“Action should be proportionate and licences would normally be suspended or revoked in these circumstances to deter further incidents.”
The licensing panel hearing is due to start at 10am on Tuesday 8 December and should be webcast on the council website.
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