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Landlady's fears after pub closure

PUBLISHED: 14:58 16 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:41 03 July 2010

Shut down: The Albion pub in Great Yarmouth.

Shut down: The Albion pub in Great Yarmouth.

A DESPERATE landlady was this week fighting for her home, business and reputation after her busy seaside pub was shut down by police after a disturbance on Good Friday.

A DESPERATE landlady was this week fighting for her home, business and reputation after her busy seaside pub was shut down by police after a disturbance on Good Friday.

Alison Smith said she was in legal limbo following the closure of the Albion pub in Nelson Road Central, Great Yarmouth, adding she had already lost a fortune in takings and would probably not survive beyond the weekend if she could not reopen.

Three staff who are all single mothers have been put on holiday pay while her lawyers, police, and licensing officials work out a way forward.

“My only objective is to get this pub open,” Mrs Smith said this week as she rallied customers to write letters in support of the popular pub.

Police officers arrived at the pub at about 10.45pm on Friday and found a number of windows had been broken.

Four men were arrested on suspicion of committing criminal damage and Mrs Smith was held on suspicion of using racially aggravating language, an allegation she vehemently denies.

As a consequence, police immediately imposed a closure order on the pub under section 161 of the Licensing Act - the first in the borough since the legislation was introduced in 2005 - citing “the risk to public safety and the threat of imminent disorder.”

The case came before Norwich Magistrates' Court on Saturday morning where it was decided the pub must remain closed pending a local authority licensing review.

At the time of going to press licensing officials said a hearing to address the issues would take place in the 10 days after an official order for a review was received from the magistrates' court.

Insp Nick Cheshire, of Yarmouth police, said such incidents were taken “extremely seriously”.

He added: “Consequently, we took the step of instigating the closure order to ensure there isn't a repeat of this incident. Our priority remains the safety and well-being of local residents in the area.”

Mrs Smith, who has run the Albion with her husband Trevor for six years, said she was released on police bail until May 13. She said she was determined to fight for the future of her pub, but feared the impact of a four-week interim closure would be devastating.

She added: “We've lost in the region of £6,000 this weekend and if we are shut for 28 days, the pub will go bankrupt. You are talking about £40,000 in takings.

“Two of my bar staff, who are single mothers, will lose their jobs and the entertainers will lose their jobs.”

Mrs Smith said a member of staff alerted police and the pub's doors were locked after trouble broke out, and insisted she acted to stop the problems escalating. She added: “It has all been blown out of proportion.”


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