Council revokes Birkenhead bar’s licence

A Birkenhead bar where a man threatened to smash items up with snooker balls in a sock has had its licence revoked by Wirral Council.

After a series of incidents including fights leading to a man’s arm being broken, Merseyside Police recommended to the local authority that Sue’s Bar on Argyle Street should be stripped of its premises licence.

A licensing hearing held in September heard evidence from officers how 16 incidents had been recorded around the premises in a 12 month period.

It has now been confirmed the bar’s licence to trade has been pulled.

Last month’s meeting heard criticisms were also made by the police of the company employed by manager Susan McIlroy for the bar’s door staff and four of these incidents were reported to the police. 

These included a man violently threatening to smash up the bar with snooker balls in a sock, alleged spiking incidents, and multiple fights including one outside the bar that resulted in a man’s arm being broken in three places.

Police also alleged bar staff had lied about a man who had had an adverse reaction to taking drugs inside the premises. The meeting was told how in June, a spiking incident was also reported by a medical professional.

The person had reportedly been drinking in Sue’s Bar when she began to feel dizzy and sick. She was later raped elsewhere and the incident had a significant effect on her mental health according to police.

Police accused Ms McIlroy of being obstructive when they asked to review CCTV following this incident. After this visit, a warning letter and action plan was issued in July.

The plan set out how police “put forward a number of conditions to the premises licence holder (Ms McIlroy) but that they did not agree with the action plan and would not amend the licence to include the conditions proposed by Merseyside Police.”

However, Ms McIlroy who did not attend the meeting said in an email to the council she had already planned to close the bar before the licensing committee meeting and handed keys over on 20 September, confirmed in a signed agreement.

Speaking to the LDRS, she said, “I am not saying we don’t have issues, what pub doesn’t? That’s why we pay door staff. Why have they not requested more door staff, change of DPS (designated premises supervisor), or reduced opening hours? All that is normal procedure.

“They have not done that because I was leaving so they then revoke the licence knowing I won’t appeal because I was leaving.”

She added, “32 years of running pubs and we get no help from police and licensing. I am glad to be gone.”

She disputed a number of claims put forward about the bar and said if there was any sign of trouble “the one causing it would be removed.” Ms McIlroy also told the council she had upgraded the CCTV at the bar at a cost of £2,500 though police said they had requested this upgrade over the course of several months.

Ms McIlroy also challenged claims about door staff “snifffing drugs whilst on duty” and argued two incidents on 25 November, 2022 and one on 25 June, 2023 had no connection with the premises.

She also disputed allegations made by a nearby resident who said, “They used tenants’ bins and that customers were able to leave the premises with glasses resulting in them being smashed in the entry.”

Andrew Bushell, licensing operations manager for the council at the meeting said the public should be able to visit Wirral’s night time economy without witnessing or being caught up in violence.

He suggested it might have been a conscious decision not to report incidents to the police and argued there was no regard for customer safety. 

Mr Bushell said, “No reasonable person would question the necessity of reporting incidents to the police,” adding, “This demonstrates a lack of regard to public safety by not contacting the police as quickly as possible.”

Ms McIlroy has a right to appeal the decision.

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