Landlord may face action on smoking ban
A Norfolk landlord and landlady could be among the first publicans in the country to face the courts accused of flouting the smoking ban.Council officials yesterday revealed they had been gathering information in recent weeks about the Dog and Partridge in East Wretham, near Thetford, including undercover work.
A Norfolk landlord and landlady could be among the first publicans in the country to face the courts accused of flouting the smoking ban.
Council officials yesterday revealed they had been gathering information in recent weeks about the Dog and Partridge in East Wretham, near Thetford, including undercover work.
Nigel Burrows, principal environmental health officer, said it was “almost inevitable” that he would recommend Breckland Council prosecutes landlord Martin Turver, 50, and his wife Karen, 43, and said that if the case goes ahead it would be the first prosecution of its kind in the region.
If prosecuted, Mr and Mrs Turver could face a £2,500 fine.
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Since the legislation came into force in July to stub out cigarettes in public places, Mr Turver has urged publicly all licensees who “disagree with the blatant infringement of civil liberties” to push for the smoking ban to be repealed.
He has threatened to delicense the pub and give punters a free pint if they buy a cup of tea - dodging the ban by turning the pub into a private property.
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Last night he declined to comment, but last month he told the EDP: “The smoking ban is a blatant infringement of people's civil liberties. While the House of Commons is exempt from the law, publicans who struggle to earn their living are covered by the ban.
“It would be sheer folly and downright unfair to ask our customers, who are mainly smokers, to stub out their cigarettes or smoke outside.”
The fuming landlord battled to reopen the Dog and Partridge more than 12 months ago after it had been closed for five years.
Mr Burrows said the council had gathered a catalogue of evidence against the Dog and Partridge for many weeks, including complaints from customers, villagers and other pubs.
He added that Mr Turver publicly stating his defiance in the media had made the council even more determined to take action.
Mr Burrows said there had been a number of visits to the pub, some undercover, by the council and police, including one on Friday to warn pub-goers that they could be served fixed penalty notices if found to be lighting up inside.
“The level of compliance with the ban around Norfolk has been exceptional. I am impressed with how well most pubs are doing. It seems to be only fair that we take strong action against the one pub that is not,” said Mr Burrows.
Kay Fisher, executive member for environmental health, said Breckland may also issue £50 fixed penalty notices to customers lighting up and that they may also risk criminal convictions.
“Breckland Council has a duty of care to staff and customers and must ensure there's an equitable approach for all publicans. We will enforce the ban,” she added.
Hugh Howitt, also known as Hamish, and who runs the Happy Scots Bar in Blackpool, became the first landlord in England to be prosecuted for flouting the legislation just a month after the ban was implemented in July. He has denied the charges and the case has been adjourned.