A TOWN mayor has been banned from the majority of the pubs in the area where he lives after a row with a landlord took another twist.

Teesdale Pub Watch yesterday confirmed it had imposed a 12-month ban on Councillor Tony Cooke, mayor of Barnard Castle, after he was allegedly rude to staff at The Beaconsfield pub, in the town, last year, while ordering a pint of shandy.

As a result of the ban, Coun Cooke will be barred from the 30-plus pubs in Teesdale that are members of the scheme.

Loading article content

Pub Watch agreed to the ban exactly a year after Coun Cooke was alleged to have been rude to Andy and Sue Hill, landlords of the Beaconsfield, and their staff, at a buffet following the town’s annual Aviation Day.

The Hills complained to Barnard Castle Town Council and banned the mayor from the pub.

Coun Cooke denies any wrongdoing, but agreed to write a letter to the Hills for any perceived slight against staff.

However, the Hills rejected the apology.

Mrs Hill said: “We did receive a letter and it wasn’t an apology outright, it was an apology for any perceived slight. You can’t apologise for something in one sentence and say you have done nothing wrong in the next.”

A meeting of the Teesdale Pub Watch took place on Wednesday night, with the majority of the 20 members voting in favour of banning Coun Cooke.

Morris Race, chairman of Teesdale Pub Watch, said: “We follow national guidelines that say if anyone is on our premises and is behaving in an abusive way to our staff or customers, we have the power to ban them.

“It doesn’t matter if that person is the mayor, the chief constable or anyone else.”

Coun Cooke declined to comment until he had received formal notification of the ban.

A spokesman from Barnard Castle Town Council said: “It is of serious concern that the decision was based on an alleged incident of exactly a year ago and that Pub Watch presumably chose to reach their decision without receiving any evidence from or on behalf of Councillor Cooke.”

Kevin Tuck, Neighbourhood Inspector for Teesdale, Weardale and Crook, said: “The decision to bar the mayor for 12 months was taken by the (Pub Watch) members, who were present, and the matter has at no time been subject to police investigation or inquiry.”