A PUB has been allowed to extend its opening hours despite some concerns about crime and disorder.

The owner of Jokers had applied to open the Stockton town centre pub until 4am on a weekend, but Cleveland Police raised objections after the pub’s manager had been caught trading outside of its licensing hours.

However, the owner, Mark Garry, reassured members of Stockton Borough Council’s licensing committee that the manager at the time of the breach in March had been sacked for gross misconduct after police visited the pub at 10.50am and discovered people drinking, despite it not officially opening until 11am.

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Today (Tuesday, May 20) an application to amend opening times for the pub, on Yarm Lane, Stockton, was heard in the Town Hall.

Mr Garry, who took over the business 18-months ago and invested significantly in the building, said: “It was previously closed down due to problems with crime and disorder but I have invested £250,000 in the business, including improved CCTV facilities.”

When asked about the incident when police discovered people drinking in the bar before opening time, he said he had carried out an investigation into the allegation including looking at CCTV footage from the time and sacked the manager for gross misconduct as a result.

Jane Smith, representing Cleveland Police, raised concerns about allegations of racist abuse directed towards a member of the pub’s door staff.

Mr Garry said: “One of my head door staff is Egyptian and has encountered racial abuse on three occasions and on those three occasions it has been himself who has notified the police about the incidents.

“My staff are trained and they are aware that certain people are to be refused entry as that is part of our policy. They are aware of these issues and staff are encountering these issues because they are turning certain people away. We can’t really be held responsible for the behaviour of people who are not allowing into our premises.”

Before the committee retired to consider its decision Mr Garry offered to amend the application to opening at 10am until 2.30am Friday and Saturday with the pub to be empty by 3am.

After a short adjournment to allow discussions between the owner and Cleveland Police’s legal representative the meeting reconvened and the force removed their objections to the application.

As a result committee chairman Councillor Evaline Cunningham approved the amendment to the licence.