London Colney pub in licence battle

FRIENDS who took over a village pub earlier this year but saw its licensing hours slashed last week are urging residents to give them and the pub a chance and help make it a success.

At a St Albans licensing committee last week, The White Horse on the High Street, London Colney, formerly known as the Pear and Partridge, had its weekend hours reduced and restrictions placed on the hours it could play live music.

But Simon Niemiec and Mevin Madoorapen, who took charge in April and have since refurbished and reopened the pub under its old name The White Horse, say they feel they’re paying the price for the pub’s history.

Simon said: “We want to be a village pub that the residents use and are a part of but we feel we’ve been judged by the incidents which happened before we arrived.

“We know the pub had a bad reputation before and we’re doing everything we can to change that and we’re seeing the benefits already. Our clientele is changing. We’re booked up with families and their young children coming in for food.”

Simon admitted that the previous issues the residents had with the pub were duly deserved and that the noise complaints made in the summer prior to the reopening on September 8 were warranted as the new business partners tried to “find their feet”.

Since then, he and his business partner Mevin say they have worked hard to reduce disturbances if customers leave late at night and limit the number of smokers outside at any one time. They have also installed a further three CCTV cameras in addition to the three already there.

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The managing team have even met with Michael Finkel who, acting on behalf of Chester Gibbons Green Residents Association, had applied for the pub’s licence to be reviewed following a spate of disturbances and agreed a suitable time to stop playing music but the review was already in progress.

He added: “We’re worried that having our hours reduced means we’re the earliest pub to close in the village and we’ll lose business as customers go to pubs that stay open later.

“Suggestions have been made we were applying for a late licence until 4am to play music. We’ve never ever considered this and wouldn’t – it would be ridiculous. We want to be a village pub that is a central part of London Colney.”

In the application, Mr Finkel, numerous residents and the police list incidences when antisocial behaviour and crimes including drug taking have been connected with the pub. Documenting the long-running nuisance of the pub, the evidence shows how disruptive it has been to many lives over the years.

But Simon and Mevin say the bar is now under new management and are eager to work with the community to ensure that period of the pub’s history is confined to the past.

Mr Finkel, in his opening statement in the application, says that neither he nor the residents of Chester Gibbons Green “bear ill will or malice” to the pub and wished it to stay in business.

Chair of London Colney parish, Ian Orton, said their previous opening times were unsuited to the village of London Colney but added: “We are working closely with the new managers of The White Horse to ensure that the benefits of the pub are enjoyed by all.

“This pub will benefit from the new clientele it’s attracting but this takes time to build up.”

Head of legal services at the district council Mike Lovelady said it was part of any licensing review to consider any alleged incidents even if they occurred prior to new management taking over.