Councillor 'totally against' plans for 'violent' Black Country bar to reopen

Calls have been made for a Black Country pub at the heart of several violent clashes to remain closed amid concerns the area will be "marred" by the issues.

The Seven Bar, Lower High Street, Wednesbury.
The Seven Bar, Lower High Street, Wednesbury.

Councillor Peter Hughes said he was "totally against" The Seven Bar in Wednesbury reopening under current proposals objected to by West Midlands Police.

Officers had attended the Lower High Street Venue 26 times over a 12-month period with the long list of violent activity leading to its licence being revoked.

But now an application has been made for the crime-hit venue, formerly known as The Turks Head, to reopen once again, sparking concerns over people's safety.

Councillor Hughes, who represents Wednesbury North, said the pub – which falls under Wednesbury South – was of concern to all of the town's councillors.

He said: "I stand side-by-side with the police and their view on the situation – I'm totally against it reopening. I think all the other councillors for Wednesbury are too and even if it's not our ward, this impacts on the night-time economy of the town.

"We don't want Wednesbury to be marred by this type of activity. We all know licensed activity will lead to disorder issues, we would be stupid to think it wouldn't, but it's how it's managed including how it impacts neighbours.

"Pubs are expected to do their best in relation to try and stop this violent activity, even if they can't prevent it completely they should at least be trying. Incidents happen in Wetherspoons and everywhere else, but licensees have a responsibility and I have no faith the licensee of this pub will do anything different to what they have done already."

Councillor Hughes said it was his view people running the pub had "no concerns" for the impact on neighbours and it seemed like they "weren't bothered" about what was happening outside or inside the premises.

He said the list of incidents revealed by the police mirrored the emails he had been receiving about issues surrounding the venue, something which he has been raising for more than two years – adding he felt the authorities should have taken action sooner.

He added: "I've been going on for over two years about the problems at The Seven Bar and how it was affecting residents and the absolutely excessive extent of the type of issues that were occurring.

"It's not in my ward, but the extent of this was massive. It was across social media, I was having one of the local traders who has a shop directly opposite The Seven saying 'look at what's happening here'. I've got emails going back probably before April 2021 where I was trying to bring this to the attention of people.

"And I don't want to be overly critical, but I think we took too long in actually grasping it by the nettle and doing what we eventually did with it. It felt like I was fighting a one-man sort of crusade at one point but what I will say is the final outcome is what I had been seeking for six to 12 months before that. I do think it took a long time, and I think even the people I had been complaining to recognise it could have been dealt with sooner – but they did what was needed in the end."

One incident allegedly saw the pub continue to serve drinks while a stabbed man was slumped over the bar bleeding, and another where a man was later jailed after ploughing his car into people outside.

Other incidents logged by police include victims being bitten, smashed in the head with a hammer and booted around the floor. There have been multiple stabbings and glassings, brawls of up to 70 people and fights where bottles have been hurled across the beer garden.

Councillor Hughes said the venue had been a pub since he was a child and said it almost feels like it needs another usage, saying The Turks Head wasn't the "best of pubs" in the town but has been made "even worse" in its current form as The Seven Bar.

He added he felt the owners had "ripped out the heart" of the pub which once had a traditional setting, adding: "I went in after it had a refurbishment and I thought 'what have they done to this place'? It was done with a purpose to attract the wrong type of people. Overall, I am totally against the reopening of it under the proposals they are making."

The application for the venue has been made by Anthony Edward Melia. Harjinder Singh Bagri had held the licence since July 2009. Under the plans, the venue would sell booze until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays and midnight on other days.

A number of conditions have been proposed, including the installation of CCTV and the keeping of a 'refusals register', detailing occasions when customers have been refused service.

Environmental health and licensing enforcement officials from Sandwell Council have also objected to the plan, saying there was a risk of "noise disturbance" and "disorder" that would be detrimental to nearby residents.

Sandwell Council's licensing sub-committee is set to rule on the application at a meeting on October 7.

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