West Auckland pub closed down following police crackdown

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter (South Durham)

A VILLAGE pub has been closed down after police discovered underage drinkers were being served and the premises used to supply Class A drugs.

Durham County Council’s sub-licensing committee today (Monday, January 7) revoked the licence for the Prince of Wales, in Front Street, West Auckland.

Sergeant Tim Robson, of Durham Police, told the meeting it had become “an unruly and disruptive pub”.

Police launched an operation at the premises on Friday, December 7, as a result of intelligence indicating it is was being used as a place to supply cocaine.

Officers searched the car of an unnamed man and discovered 12 individually wrapped packets of white powder in a sweet packet and about £250 in cash.

Three of the packets were tested at random and were found to be cocaine. The drugs recovered are said to have a street value of £960.

Sgt Robson said: “The investigation is ongoing but serious crime is being committed on and inside the premises.

“Since it has closed (the licence was suspended last month) the nearby Eden Arms has seen a strong increase in unruly and rowdy behaviour. The landlord has been seeking assistance from the police to remove these people.”

In November, CCTV captured underage drinkers being served on the premises.

The Prince of Wales premises licence holder Shane McGonigle, of Danbury Associates Limited, said the pub was rented from his company and he only became aware of any problems last month.

He said it was not policy to check up on each pub but had he known he would have taken steps to get another premises supervisor in.

“I totally condemn all of this,” he said. “This is the first time we have incurred these problems at any of our pubs. If I had been made aware I would have taken the same steps.

“We have not made any decisions over what the future holds but we might put it up for sale.”

Speaking after the meeting, Sgt Robson added: “We are very pleased with the outcome. We will not stand for this kind of disruptive behaviour."

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