Pub at centre of attack investigation to reopen in the new year

The Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham.
The Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham.

A pub at the centre of an assault investigation which left a man with two broken eye sockets will be allowed to reopen in the new year.

The Oddfellows Arms, in Church Street, Seaham, had its licence suspended last month, following a request from Durham Constabulary.

This morning, licensing chiefs at Durham County Council agreed to let it reopen from Wednesday, January 2 – but only after pub bosses agreed to accept a raft of conditions governing how the business should be run.

Police bosses applied for a review of the bar’s licence after raising concerns it was ‘being associated with serious crime and disorder’ after an attack on October 20.

According to a police statement to the council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee: “The IP [injured party] has suffered significant injuries consisting of two fractured eye sockets, a broken nose and two fractured ribs.

“The IP requires surgery to his face whereby metal plates will be put into his face to assist in the healing of his eye sockets.

“The incident has been captured on CCTV and shows the IP being assaulted by at least three males within the pub and when the IP is on the floor his head is stamped on.”

This added the designated premises supervisor (DPS) had not intervened, either herself, by alerting door staff or reporting the attack to the police.

The DPS, named in council reports as Elizabeth Ann Porritt, was removed from the position last month.

Officers also cited other assaults and CCTV footage of unaccompanied children in the pub, one of whom was later revealed to be in foster care, as further evidence for concern.

“The police were left with no confidence in the way the premises were being run,” police solicitor Jeffrey Turnbull told the panel.

“In fairness to the licence holder, on being notified, action was immediately taken to suspend the DPS.”

Speaking on behalf of Red Oak Taverns, which owns the Oddfellows, solicitor Jonathan Smith said the firm had ‘inherited’ Ms Porritt when the firm took over the site as she was already the established tenant.

He added: “The issue seems to have arisen over the last 12 months, but prior to that it appeared to have a clean record.

“Back in 2013 the licence was extended to 12.30am, closing at 1am, and the only representation from the police was a CCTV condition.”

Members of the panel agreed to continue the pub’s licence suspension for a further six weeks, while the owners find a new tenant to take over the bar, train staff and carry out refurbishments.

Conditions include:

Sale of alcohol and other licensable activities restricted to 9 – 1am, seven days a week, except on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, when this can be extended to 2am.

Durham Constabulary to approve new DPS

At least one member of door staff to be required at weekend from 10pm and two door staff if service is to continue after midnight

No under-18s allowed on site without an adult

Staff to keep an incident log

Rear entrance to be closed from 10pm, but still be available for use as an emergency exit

Representatives from Red Oak who attended the meeting decline to comment on the panel’s decision

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service