Time is called on Bar Watch landlord’s own licence

The Havelock landlord Stephen Goodfellow
The Havelock landlord Stephen Goodfellow

A PUB landlord who was chairman of a scheme to make the town centre safer for revellers has been stripped of his licence.

Stephen Goodfellow of The Havelock lost his licence after a hearing on Monday, April 11, where police catalogued 18 incidents linked to the pub in 2010 – 13 of which involved violence.

But Mr Goodfellow, who built up the Bar Watch scheme said he was the victim of “a personal vendetta” and will appeal the decision.

The eight-and-a-half hour meeting of the Hastings Borough Council licensing committee was called after the police applied to strip The Havelock of its licence, saying that the number of incidents of crime and disorder at the pub “seriously undermined” safety in the town centre.

The police produced a list of 18 offences that took place between January 21 and November 27 last year, including one woman glassing another and Mr Goodfellow himself being stabbed with a pair of scissors.

Peter Savill, the lawyer representing the police, said it was a “depressingly common feature” that those involved had been drunk in The Havelock before the incidents took place.

The list included three offences in four days during October and Mr Goodfellow was accused of being drunk at work on several occasions when the police visited the pub.

But Michael Foster, representing Mr Goodfellow and his wife Julie, repeatedly accused the police of “over-egging” the allegations and including incidents that were barely linked to the pub at all.

He said that in one of the offences – the serious assault of a Belgian professor visiting the UK – Mr Goodfellow had been a peacemaker and even put his own safety at risk by giving the police a statement.

Mr Foster alleged that police targeted the pub because of the tense relationship between PC John Ash – the officer in charge of licensing – and Mr Goodfellow.

Mr Foster said PC Ash had told his client he was “going to nail him” and he added: “That sets the scene for the way you were going to get this guy.”

Mr Goodfellow, 54, of Bexhill Road, St Leonards, said PC Ash treated him with “disrespect and disdain”.

But PC Ash denied the allegations and Chief Inspector Mark Ling said that although some other establishments had higher numbers of offences – namely Yates’s and Fluid – it was the severity of the incidents related to The Havelock that concerned him and his officers.

He also said that repeated problems getting good quality CCTV pictures from the pub had been raised several times but to no avail.

Mr Goodfellow took over as the chairman of the Bar Watch scheme in July 2009 and had increased membership from four members to 69, the meeting heard.

In that time offences across town fell sharply, and Mr Goodfellow worked “tirelessly and passionately” to improve behaviour in the town since taking over the pub in 2002.

He said: “We have a very strict, no-nonsense policy if someone becomes aggressive.

“We are a popular pub for all age groups from 20 to 80 and there is a happy atmosphere.

“Unfortunately, not every character you get in Hastings is a very nice person but we get people out as quickly as possible if they are causing a problem.”

In his closing remarks, Mr Foster said: “Mr Goodfellow does not get it right every time but he gets it right most of the time and he gets it right more than others.”

But the three councillors on the panel decided Mr Goodfellow should lose his licence, with chairman Cllr Richard Vallery-Peters saying: “You have been irresponsible over a prolonged period of time and failed to work with the police.”

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Goodfellow said he was “absolutely dumbfounded” by the decision, and he plans to appeal.

Should that fail, the pub faces an uncertain future, and may become the fourth venue in that area to close in recent months after The Street, The Crypt and Honey LuLus shut in January.

Mr Goodfellow, who stepped down as chairman of Bar Watch on Tuesday, has also been charged with seven breaches of his licence.

He denies the charges and will stand trial on June 2.