Published on November 19th, 2010 | by Dean Carr
Pub goes dry after licence mix-up
A PUB had to give away its beer after being banned from selling alcohol over a licence blunder.
Landlords Catherine Loydall and Alistair Tuffin, who run the Fox, in Souldern, between Bicester and Banbury, were told last Friday they had been trading illegally since February.
They say that as a results of the alcohol sale ban, they are losing about £4,000-a-week in trade.
Their landlord, GRS Pubs, had not renewed the Fox Lane pub’s premises licence, which allows it to trade as a bar and sell alcohol, when it acquired the pub earlier this year.
Mr Tuffin was warned that if the couple sold alcohol before a new licence was issued, they could face a £20,000 fine or up to six months in prison.
It will take 28 days for a new premises licence to be issued and in that time the pair claim they are losing between £4,000 and £6,000-a-week as the festive season approaches.
Mr Tuffin, 39, said: “We really can’t believe it. It’s just like having a trap-door underneath your feet and you can’t do anything.
“We have been trading since February without a licence and at any time could have been prosecuted. It’s such as serious business, and as much as it’s a piece of paper, there are serious consequences if you don’t have one.
“We have given away £2,000-worth of beer to the locals, because it wont keep until the new licence is issued. We have turned away tables or told people to bring their own bottle.”
He said the couple took over the pub three years ago and had seen business grow each year since.
Mr Tuffin said: “Then we had a phone call last Friday to say there was no licence enabling us to sell alcohol.
“The first reaction of people was ‘they’re in trouble’, so over the weekend we went door to door with letters explaining the situation.”
The couple can still serve food, but have had to reduce their opening hours. Mr Tuffin said: “It has had a massive effect on staff. We’ve had a meeting to say ‘you’re not going to lose your jobs but just bear with us’.”
Russell Cawtheray, operations director for GRS Pubs, said it took over several pubs, including the Fox, when its former owner, called London Town, went into administration.
He said: “At that time our solicitor was asked to transfer all the licences for GRS and for some reason, which we’re investigating, one, the Fox, didn’t get transferred.”
Mr Cawtheray said Mr Tuffin had been refunded for the stock he could not sell, would not be charged rent and they were discussing compensation.
GRS has also applied for a temporary events notice, which will allow the pub to trade between November 27 and December 13, when the new licence is due to come into force.
Cherwell District Council confirmed the premises licence had expired. Pubs must have two licenses in order to sell alcohol: a premises licence, which allows alcohol to be sold and stored, and the landlord must have a personal licence to sell alcohol.
Source : The Oxford Times