Licence review for Staffordshire pub linked to 22 Covid-19 cases

A Staffordshire pub linked to 22 cases of Covid-19 will have its licence reviewed in the coming days after a town council raised concerns it had undermined a public safety objective.

The Crown and Anchor pub, Stone
The Crown and Anchor pub, Stone

Hundreds of people were tested for coronavirus in Stone after concerns were raised about a lack of social distancing at the Crown and Anchor in Station Road during the weekend of July 16-18.

A video of people packed into the pub’s beer garden appeared on social media and days later a report was received that a member of staff had tested positive for Covid 19.

The venue was closed for almost a month for a deep clean and risk assessment review – and several other premises in town also shut their doors voluntarily at the end of July for a few days to help reduce the spread of the virus.

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In the wake of the outbreak, which put Stone in the national news spotlight, the town council called on Stafford Borough Council to review the Crown and Anchor’s premises licence on the grounds it had undermined the public safety objective.

An application submitted by Stone Town Council stated: “The Crown and Anchor was the source of a Covid-19 outbreak following non-compliance with Government guidelines.”

Councillor Ian Fordham described the events at the Crown and Anchor as “foolish and irresponsible” at a town council meeting held in the wake of the incident. Concerns were raised that there had been a “clear breach of guidance which had unacceptably put lives at risk”.

Many people took to social media to voice their anger at what had happened.

But others spoke up for the pub’s licensee – and letters of support have been submitted to Stafford Borough Council ahead of the November 30 licensing hearing.

Support

Stephanie Bromley said: “Custodio and Theresa (Pinto) made a huge mistake on the evening/weekend in question however, like many others, they are learning how to cope with incredibly difficult, changing circumstances. The Pintos are a well-respected family and have no previous bad record.

“Taking their licence away will only serve to destroy another business and take away the livelihood of a local family with three children. Kindness, compassion and support are what is needed in this world full of Covid-19.

“They are not the only people to make a mistake. Please don’t make them the scapegoats.”

Leanne Leese said: “It was a mistake they made without the understanding of how dangerous the situation was and without realising the upset that would be caused. I believe that they feel regret and shame for their actions; not because of people’s nasty words and judgement, but for the pure principle of them being good people with good intentions.

“A lot of us would rather see a pub back open after this awful pandemic than another empty building of a business that has suffered the effects of this. The Crown and Anchor is a well-loved pub by myself and many others that I know and we would all be truly saddened to see it go, especially after years of trading in our small town.”

Stafford Borough Council’s environmental health department said the premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor had “worked closely with the council throughout the investigation and co-operated with all requests in a timely fashion”. No formal notices were served and the business closed voluntarily.

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