Debbie Haughey, the landlady of The Alma Hotel on Priory Street, received notification from her solicitors on Tuesday that the police are applying to revoke her premises licence.
In a lengthy report, Chief Inspector Blackmore, of Dyfed-Powys Police says: “It’s a poorly run public house. If this record of lock-ins, under-age drinking, violent crime, lack of supervision, serving of drunken customers, non-cooperation and support is not sufficient to merit revocation then it is difficult to see what is. After all, this is not a city centre night club, but a pub on a town side-street that is currently making a mockery of the licensing laws.”
The police report catalogues 66 alleged incidents concerning The Alma, which have come to the attention of the police over the last few years. The report claims that police were informed via a 999 call on October 6 in which “A caller reported 12 year old girls at the Alma on cocaine. There are reports of about eight to ten of them there. Caller goes on to say that he would rather see the place closed down than to go drinking there.”
The report goes on to say: “Unfortunately the police in Milford Haven were not made aware of the incident and therefore not in a position to verify the validity of the report.”
Debbie Haughey told The Herald: “I have a been a licensee for six years, and before running The Alma Hotel, I was in charge of The Haven Hotel on Hamilton Terrace. During my time at The Haven Hotel, and since I have left, it has had a reputation as being difficult premises to manage. I have always maintained a very good working relationship with all of the statutory authorities, specially the police and licensing team at Pembrokeshire County Council.”
She went on to say: “I feel that since there was a change in the police licensing officer things have changed. I do not feel that I have had the opportunity to build a positive relationship with Nigel Hayes, since he took his position replacing Tony Davies, with whom I had a very constructive working relationship.
“I always had the opportunity with Tony Davies, a very experienced licensing officer who had been in the job for as long as anyone can remember, to pick up the telephone and talk to him about any issues or difficulties that I was encountering with my licensed premises. This option is no longer open to me under the new arrangements”
“I have been encouraged by the police and the Council to report all incidents at the premises. Where it would be easy to not report incidents The Alma has a policy of ensuring that the authorities are made aware of hat is going on at all times. However, feel that this policy is now being used against the premises, because the umber of incidents looks fairly high. In fact, it should be noted that this is because of the policy, rather than because of a higher rate of incidents compared to some other town centre pubs.”
Debbie Haughey concluded: “The police have been concerned about drugs at the premises, which I believe are a result of malicious calls to police from rival premises. In a climate where pubs are closing daily, the management of these premises are in competition with the Alma to attract an ever shrinking number of customers.
“This competition leads to false reports, wild accusations and the wasting of police time. This was made evident at the execution of a drugs warrant at the premises by police on the November 10 2012, where no drugs were found. This wasted the time of a dozen officers who were tied up that evening as a result of completely false information from rival establishments. Allegations of twelve year olds snorting cocaine are just ridiculous. If the police believed it was true, why didn’t they attend, it’s a major child protection issue.”
The police went on to say: “Whist the list of incidents at the Alma is concerning it should be recognised that many incidents go unreported – a sobering thought!”
The police are seeking a complete revocation of the licence, or in the alternative a reduction in hours to 11pm closing, the removal of any form of regulated entertainment and the removal of Debbie Haughey from the licence.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee will decide the fate of the premises next year.