Director’s vow to save rock pub

The New Fleece Hotel
The New Fleece Hotel

A director of the firm which runs a crisis-hit pub has vowed to turn things round after the venue’s licence was revoked.

Peter McNulty, from the group which runs The Fleece in Ashton, spoke of his determination to ensure the town centre rock venue will not end up closing its doors for good.

I’m keen to put things right because who wants to see a pub like that boarded up for months, maybe years?

Peter McNulty

Wigan Council’s licensing sub-committee last week revoked The Fleece’s licence after Greater Manchester Police (GMP) expressed serious concerns about its management and the way it was run.

Mr McNulty says he intends to appeal the decision to the magistrates’ court and keep the Warrington Road pub open in the meantime.

He acknowledged that things had gone wrong at The Fleece but said he was committed to the venue due to the rapidly-shrinking number of places for bands to play live music.

Mr McNulty said: “I could have spent a bit more time on The Fleece but I’m now going to go back in and spend the money putting things right.

“Some people have let me down and I’ve had to agree with what the police have said, but I’m putting new managers in and looking for different people.

“I’m keen to put things right because who wants to see a pub like that boarded up for months, maybe years? Pubs are going out of business so often these days.

“There are already a number of pubs in Ashton town centre but I like this one because it’s a music venue, that’s all it has ever been known as.

“It takes me back to my youth and it’s the only place like this in the area. It’s mainly for people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who still remember the bands who they can’t see any more. This is the nearest they can get to them.”

Mr McNulty says he is completely overhauling the management team at The Fleece following a number of strongly-worded complaints from GMP about those in charge in the report which was prepared for the licensing sub-committee.

Officers from Wigan Council and the police also expressed deep concern about a lack of security measures, incomplete record keeping and the general state and maintenance of the premises.

Residents who submitted comments to the authorities during the consultation period before the licensing review also made claims about anti-social behaviour at The Fleece, but both Mr McNulty and people who visited the pub have said these allegations have been somewhat exaggerated.

If Mr McNulty and his legal representatives lodge the appeal as intended the magistrates’ court is expected to hear the case at some point next year.

The venue is permitted to remain open pending an appeal and plans are also being made for a special Christmas Day event for homeless people in the Ashton area.

Work has also already begun to improve the first-floor function room and the bar.

Mr McNulty said: “I’m going to do my utmost to sort this, even though I will have to be taken away from my other businesses.

“I will look at it a bit more closely and spend more time up here. I will also put in a lot more money to get everything right for the police, the council and local people.”

Wigan Council said the director of the pub is entitled to appeal the decision to revoke the licence to the magistrates’ court within 21 days of the notice being received.