Victory for Norwich pub in tables and chairs battle with opticians

A Norwich city centre pub which has been embroiled in a long-running dispute with a neighbouring opticians has won the right to retain its outside tables and chairs.

And The Murderers, in Timberhill, will no longer have to abide by a previous condition imposed by Norwich City Council, which had insisted the pub owners had to ensure people outside were seated.

That condition had been imposed in February, after Moss and Leakey opticians, opposite the pub, said the tables and chairs created a nuisance, with noisy drinkers intimidating staff and customers.

With that licence expiring, pub landlord Phil Cutter had submitted a fresh application for eight tables and 24 chairs to the city council's regulatory committee.

The committee heard yesterday how David Foskett, who manages Moss and Leakey opticians, had used CCTV and tape recordings to capture what he saw as breaches of the conditions attached to the previous licence.

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He provided 155 pictures to the committee and Mr Foskett said he had captured images for a month to show what he, his staff and customers had to endure each day.

He said: 'People start getting inebriated and get a bit louder. We have that building up over the course of a day, with people standing outside. 'These people get noisy. Their language falls apart and it is not just me, it's my customers as well, who feel it is an intimidating atmosphere.

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'You only need three people outside and it can make your afternoon an absolute nightmare.'

His solicitor Juan Lopez said the previous conditions were brought in because the tables and chairs had created a nuisance to the optician and the council would become a 'mockery' if it granted a licence now, given the extent of evidence of breaches his client had amassed showed the situation was now worse than ever.

But the Murderers won support from a string of other business bosses in Timberhill, who said they thought the pub and its tables and chairs drew people to the area, boosting trade.

Brian Hardie, solicitor for The Murderers, said every effort was made to comply with the conditions, but that it was very difficult for staff to persuade all customers to sit down.

He added: 'This is a personal crusade by Mr Foskett and continues to be his bete noire.'

After close to an hour of deliberations, the committee agreed to grant the licence, with statutory conditions and a condition that tables and chairs not be placed near doors.

They noted there had been breaches of the existing licence, but said they did not feel the day to day noise created by people drinking outside the pub constituted a nuisance.

Speaking afterwards, landlord Mr Cutter said: 'I am ecstatic. I think the right decision has been made and it vindicates what we have been saying and doing. 'We try very hard to do the best we can and the complaints have been based on perception rather than on the actual facts.

'It proves that just because people are outside the pub having fun, it doesn't mean those people are a nuisance.'

Mr Foskett said afterwards: 'I am very disappointed. I cannot understand why this opportunity has not been taken. We have shown what we believe is adequate evidence to the committee and the decision is inexplicable.'

• Do you think the right decision was made? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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