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Hammer and Tongs shut down for three months by the borough council
A PROBLEM pub will be shut for at least three months while the company that owns it tries to bring in new management.
Enterprise Inns, owner of The Hammer and Tongs, has pledged to clean up the pub’s image and curb the booze-fuelled violence that has plagued the site.
The pub, in Old Worting Road, South Ham, Basingstoke, closed its doors on September 3 after the previous landlords reportedly disappeared, less than a month after Hampshire Constabulary called for a review of its licence.
The police were concerned after a catalogue of problems were reported, dating from October 2011 through to June 2012.
These included drunken fights, unsupervised staff, a member of door staff paid in beer, evidence of cocaine use, and the sale of alcohol to 16-year-olds.
On Monday, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee heard how Enterprise Inns felt they had been let down by their previous tenant.
The tenant, Basingstoke-registered company M K Bars and Pubs Ltd, rented the premises from Enterprise Inns, and the landlord was the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) and responsible for the pub’s day-to-day running.
Enterprise Inns' solicitor Clare Johnson told the three-strong committee that the company will bring in new, and responsible, tenants to run the pub.
“The premises is currently closed, and there is no way it would be opened with that DPS,” she said. “M K Bars have let us, the police, and the licensing authority (Basing-stoke and Deane Borough Council) down.
“Enterprise Inns accepts that lessons have to be learned. They are very concerned about what has happened. We want to work with the police and the licensing authority in dealing with the problem.”
The committee agreed to a police request that the pub should close for a minimum of three months, but Enterprise Inns said it would be shut for “as long as it takes” until “responsible” tenants are found.
Police licensing officer Claire Wanless said she believed the three-month closure will allow the company to tackle the problems at The Hammer and Tongs.
“If the agreements are met, the police would be happy that we are on the right track with this premises,” she said. “It is in a challenging area, and remains so, and it will have a lot of attention from the police in the future.”