Police say rock pub should shut

The New Fleece Hotel, Warrington Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield.
The New Fleece Hotel, Warrington Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield.

Police officers are recommending a rock pub at the centre of a row over anti-social behaviour should be shut down.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the licence for The Fleece in Ashton should be revoked ahead of a review being held by Wigan Council.

The local authority will consider the future of the problem-plagued pub on Friday after resident Michael Moulding complained about noise, thunderously loud music playing into the early hours and concerns about the venue’s management.

A report prepared for the licensing sub-committee shows the authorities have serious concerns about the Warrington Road rock pub.

GMP originally suggested the committee should consider temporarily suspending The Fleece’s licence to allow for a change in management, but further correspondence last week showed the force’s attitude towards the building has hardened and now suggests the police will seek to revoke the licence entirely.

The Licensing Authority has also suggested to the council that The Fleece needs a change in management personnel and a temporary suspension of the licence should be considered to allow for the running of the pub to be improved.

Public protection officer Arron Hanson has also written to Wigan Council on behalf of the Environmental Health Authority, suggesting the hours for entertainment in the function room need to be shortened, finishing by 11pm on Thursdays and Sundays and 12.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Currently The Fleece is allowed to stage live music in the first-floor room until 4am Thursday to Saturday, with dances and playing of recorded music allowed to go on until the same time.

Mr Moulding took the step of seeking to review the premises licence in late August and made numerous complaints about excessive noise and anti-social behaviour as well as a lack of effort by the pub to solve the issues.

In his application Mr Moulding said: “The proven mismanagement of the premises has had a serious detrimental impact on the local community.

“The owners are breaching their premises licence. Their activities have no or little regard for the local community.

“The premises and the immediate environment is not cared for and the level of noise is not acceptable.”

However, Mr Moulding has stressed throughout the process that he does not want the licence to be revoked.

Wigan Council then set up a 28-day consultation period allowing residents and the authorities to have their say. Two people who live near The Fleece have responded and highlighted concerns to be considered by the committee.

The venue has been at the centre of controversy for some months as GMP and council employees visited in July and found a long list of failings in the way it was being run.

The committee can take several different steps if it feels there are problems with The Fleece, including reducing opening hours or asking for improved security, banning certain events or activities from taking place there and removing management staff deemed to be responsible for poor standards.

Councillors can also suspend a licence for a period of up to three months or, in the most serious cases, revoke it entirely.

The Fleece’s fate will be decided at Wigan Council’s licensing sub-committee on Friday November 4 at 10am.