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Police block bid by 'flashpoint' city pub to open before East Anglian Derby

PUBLISHED: 13:22 15 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:31 15 January 2019

The Fat Cat and Canary has been told it can not open early on Derby Day. Pictured, bar manager Justin Mckee and landlord Christian Hodgkinson. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

The Fat Cat and Canary has been told it can not open early on Derby Day. Pictured, bar manager Justin Mckee and landlord Christian Hodgkinson. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

It is a regular match day haunt for Norwich City fans and even has the word Canary in its name.

Evening News Pub of the Week the Fat Cat and Canary on Thorpe Road, Norwich. Photo: Steve AdamsEvening News Pub of the Week the Fat Cat and Canary on Thorpe Road, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

However, there will likely be no Canaries flocking to the Fat Cat and Canary on Thorpe Road when Paul Lambert brings his Tractor Boys to Carrow Road, after police knocked the pub’s attempt to open up early into touch.

With the big game between Norwich City and Ipswich Town due to kick off at 12pm on Sunday, February 10, the pub applied to Norwich City Council to allow it to extend its opening hours on derby day and open two hours before kick-off.

The pub’s current licence allows it to open from 12pm on Sundays.

But after police objected to the extension, the bid was rejected. Now the pub is awaiting an appeal hearing on Monday.

A sign outside The Fat Cat and Canary pub welcoming NCFC manager Daniel Farke. Picture : ANTONY KELLYA sign outside The Fat Cat and Canary pub welcoming NCFC manager Daniel Farke. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Christian Hodgkinson, pub landlord, said while he understood the police’s stance the decision could see him losing out on thousands of pounds of trade.

He said: “I do feel a little singled out, as lots of other pubs will be opening earlier on this day.

“However, because of my location - and the fact my pub has the word ‘canary’ on the sign - I can see why the police feel the way they do.”

Mr Hodgkinson said the Town House, on Yarmouth Road, was a particularly regular spot for away fans, and therefore opposition supporters would pass him on the way to the ground.

This is the same argument from Norfolk Police’s licensing officer, Michelle Bartam, in recommending the appeal be dismissed.

She said: “The location of this premises has historically been a flashpoint for conflict between home and away supporters. The away supporters take this route to the ground to deliberately antagonise the Norwich fans, many of which will be congregated out the front of this venue.

“In previous years, this match has required 30 police officers and vehicles to cordon the outside of the pub to keep the two sets of fans apart due to the verbal threats and physical missiles thrown by both sets of fans.”

Mr Hodgkinson added: “It would have been handy to open before the game but I’ll still be open afterwards - hopefully to toast yet another City win.”

A sub-committee of Norwich City Council’s licensing team will decide whether to allow to pub to open up at an appeal hearing on Monday, January 21.

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