A village pub could be shut down indefinitely after its landlady was accused of showing “contempt” for licensing laws.
A report into No.5 Duke Street, in West Barns, details allegations of brawls outside its doors, fire exits secured using bicycle locks and claims that watered-down vodka was being served.
It also revealed five antisocial behaviour reports were filed after the East Lothian pub reopened its doors earlier this year following a major renovation.
Natasha Colhoun, the landlady of the pub – formerly known as West Barns Inn – was accused by East Lothian Council’s licensing standards officer of “significantly lacking” in her knowledge of the law despite being a named premises manager for five years.
In a report to the council’s licensing board this week, the officer said: “Ms Colhoun has shown contempt and complete disregard for the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 and has simply done as she please.”
The report says the pub appeared to cease trading in June 2019 before undergoing major renovations. It reopened in April this year with a new layout which was different to the one approved by licensing chiefs – and no application for approval of the new look was submitted.
In June, the report said the licensing standards officer was made aware of a string of antisocial behaviour complaints relating to rubbish being dumped, late-night drunken screaming and fighting at the front of the pub and police being called to one violent incident.
A beer garden opened to the rear of the pub did not have planning permission and there were concerns raised by the officer over “irresponsible drink promotions” on social media.
Concerns were also raised about plans to hold a ‘Minifest’ at the premises last month including live bands, food and a bouncy castle, again with no permissions sought.
The officer said Ms Colhoun had been unaware of the need to licence the event and cancelled it.
Environmental health officers were also called in to investigate after complaints were made about vodka being watered down in the pub, while tables and chairs appeared outside the front of the venue without approval.
The report said: “Ms Colhoun was asked why she had gone ahead and put tables and chairs at the front of the premises without permission from roads to do so or a variation or occasion licence to which she replied everyone else is doing it so I thought I could.”
It also stated that environmental health contacted the licensing standards officer in June this year, adding: “The department had received a complaint in relation [to] the premises watering down alcohol in particular vodka. It was confirmed the premises had not registered (with environmental health) and details of the new operator were requested. A report has been requested from environmental health.”
The board is being asked to review Ms Colhoun’s personal licence as well as the premises licence for the pub itself at a meeting on Thursday this week.
Outlining breaches of licensing conditions to the board the officer says: “Due to the changes that have been made at the premises, operations conducted, a complete lack of respect and no attempt to follow the licensing administrative procedure set out in the act the following conditions have been breached by the licence holder Ms Colhoun.”
The pub announced its temporary closure on its Facebook page on July 15.