Ex-pub now a vandal magnet

Local business owner outside the wrecked pub
Local business owner outside the wrecked pub
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Town centre businesses say youths are running amok in an abandoned pub and expressed alarm at the spate of anti-social behaviour.

Owners of firms near The Fleece Hotel in Ashton say up to 30 trespassers have been seen in the Warrington Road building and made accusations of drug-dealing and vandalism.

They also claim that visitors’ cars are at risk and that the anti-social behaviour is so bad people have told them they are scared to visit that part of Ashton.

The problems seem to have got worse during the past month while the schools have been off, leading concerned residents to try to block off entrance points themselves.

The Fleece shut down earlier this year, its licence revoked after the discovery of a host of licensing breaches and serious management failures.

Wayne Jones, who runs a hair salon beneath the now-shut rock pub’s function room, said: “They are just smashing it to bits. It’s completely derelict inside, from being a working pub. I’ve seen some photos of the inside and it’s unbelievable. They just seem to be destroying it. All the window frames have been smashed at the side of the building.

“Sometimes there are 20 or 30 kids there, they seem to be using it as a meeting place. We’ve got the church next to it trying to hold funerals and there’s this going on. Our big fear is if they decide to turn the taps on upstairs and we get flooded or if they set fire to it.”

Michael Yates, who owns Market Kitchen, said: “For us this is a disaster. We’re trying to attract a nice crowd of customers, mainly couples an retired people, and some of them have said they are too scared to leave their cars on our car park.

“The kids are trying to trash everything they can. They are climbing on cars, climbing on the roof, it’s just becoming ridiculous. They are smoking weed at the back, we’ve had the smell coming into the restaurant and I’ve had to get them to move away.

“The place needs to be demolished and rebuilt.”

The businesses also criticised the authorities for not doing enough to secure the building, leading to makeshift blockades being placed around the ex-pub and anti-vandal paint being applied by residents.

Police investigations are also continuing into whether owner David Williams acquired the pub fraudulently.

Wigan Council confirmed it had been approached over the issues but said they were firstly a matter for Greater Manchester Police. A spokesman said: “We work closely in partnership with GMP to tackle anti-social behaviour in our communities. Reports can be made to GMP using 101 and residents can also report issues through our website and the Report It app.”