Sunderland pub allowed to open early on derby day despite police protests

The Colliery Tavern, Sunderland.
The Colliery Tavern, Sunderland.
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A pub will be allowed to open early as the Black Cats clash with Newcastle – despite police fears over booze-fuelled violence.

The Colliery Tavern can begin serving alcohol from 10.30am, three hours before Sunderland takes on their rivals on Sunday, October 21.

Northumbria Police had opposed the application by landlord John Snaith to Sunderland City Council for a temporary event notice to roll back the opening time of noon.

Chief Inspector Kevin Waring, of Sunderland Area Command, told a council licensing committee the same request by the pub last year was turned down, which led to a much more successful policing operation.

“This fixture is always a very challenging event with emotions running high and a lot at stake for both the clubs,” he said.

“I can’t emphasise how important it is to limit the drinking time of supporters. I realise the majority of supporters are well- behaved and just want a drink before the match.”

Officers also said the Monkwearmouth pub, which is just metres from the Stadium of Light, had been the scene of antisocial behaviour by away fans when Sunderland took on Everton in March.

Police licensing coordinator Sarah Howson told the committee that up to 500 away fans gathered at the pub - which is licensed to hold 60 people inside and 100 in a marquee - and threw glasses at rival supporters.

But Mr Snaith told the hearing at Sunderland Civic Centre on match days he served drinks in plastic glasses, had two bouncers on duty at all times and would patrol the pub himself with his assistant manager.

“There were glasses thrown, but they were plastic and there was not a great deal,” he said.

“It was not something that got out of hand and it quite quickly quietened down.

“Everton supporters turned up after the game and we had no problems up until 11.30pm that night.

“I’ve been there seven years and this is the one and only incident the police have recorded.”

Granting the extension, committee chairman Coun Peter Gibson said: “The evidence we have heard and the legal advice we have heard means the police, in the event of trouble at the Colliery Tavern, can close the building down if needs be.”

He added that other bars in the city centre could be opening as early as 8am on derby day.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Snaith said: “I’m just happy that it’s happened. I run a tight ship.”

Twitter: @janethejourno