Police shut pub due to violence and disorder - and now it could lose its licence

The closed Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham. Picture by FRANK REID
The closed Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham. Picture by FRANK REID
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A community is campaigning to reopen a pub closed down by police after violence flared.

The Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham, was first served a notice stating its licence would be called in for review following a request from Durham Constabulary.

A sign on the front of the closed Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham. Picture by Frank Reid.

A sign on the front of the closed Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham. Picture by Frank Reid.

The force said it first met in August to discuss concerns, with a series of conditions put in place to make it a safer place for customers, but says the pub failed to stick to the extra rules.

The Echo understands one fight between two men in the bar last month left one in need of facial surgery.

The decision to shut the business has left around 10 staff out of work, and it is believed the landlady, Lizzy Porritt, has been told she must leave the property in coming weeks.

A petition has been set up, calling to keep Lizzy and her team in a job, with more than 1,200 names put to it so far.

We hope the business will be back open again.

Oddfellows Arms bar worker

A notice on the front of the Oddfellows says: “Due to unforeseen circumstances we have to close until further notice. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

Anyone who wishes to voice a view can make their representation to Durham County Council by Tuesday, November 6.

Among those left without a job is a 43-year-old woman who worked behind the bar.

She said door staff were able to break up the fight, and that the landlady would have struggled to separate the two brawling men.

The closed Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham. Picture by FRANK REID

The closed Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, Seaham. Picture by FRANK REID

“I’ve been employed there on and off for about 20 years,” she said, “and Lizzy’s had it for about the last 10. She’s been a good landlady.

“She’s fair in running the business and really very well liked, but she didn’t like any trouble and tried to avoid it.

“It’s been upsetting for us and for the customers of the pub, and it’s well liked by members of the public in Seaham - it’s a community pub.

“We hope the business will be back open again.”

The Echo contacted Lizzy to discuss the closure, but was unable to speak to her.

However, she sent a message saying she had been overwhelmed with the response from the people of Seaham and “could not thank them enough”.

Inspector Rachel Stockdale, head of Durham Constabulary’s alcohol harm reduction unit, said: “Following reports of violence and disorder, we requested the licence of The Oddfellows Arms in Seaham be reviewed.

“We met with the licensing committee and public house in August 2018, where a decision was made to put conditions in place to increase public safety.

“However, the pub failed to adhere to these conditions.

“The pub’s licence will now be reviewed by Durham County Council’s licensing committee.”

Red Oak Taverns, which owns the pub, said: “Due to ongoing legal proceedings we are not able to comment further at this time.”