Secret deal saves our Spoons!

Mexborough's Old Market Hall pub.
Mexborough's Old Market Hall pub.

Mexborough’s Wetherspoons pub WILL stay open after lawyers reached a secret, eleventh-hour deal in unprecedented scenes at a public council meeting.

The Old Market Hall was put under threat of closure after being summoned to a public licence review by a Doncaster Council’s “licensing sub-committee A” last Thursday.

But the pub is now almost certain to stay open, with conditions placed on its premise licence.

Lawyers for the company and Trading Standards’ struck a deal behind closed doors... AFTER the Mansion House meeting had begun!

Although a full house of interested parties and concerned residents had assembled to discuss the fate of the popular pub, the panel granted the lawyers’ request for a 20-minute adjournment to privately discuss “some common ground”.

When they returned to the table, 35 minutes later, a lawyer for Wetherspoons announced the pub giant and Doncaster Council’s Trading Standards team were close to reaching “an agreement” and asked for the meeting to be adjourned.

Richard Taylor, representing Wetherspoons, told the three councillors on the committee: “An agreement between the parties has been tentatively reached about conditions on the licence”.

“Rather than keep everyone here waiting, I request that we adjourn.

“It gives the parties time to sort out the wording of the conditions that we will ask to be imposed on the premises licence.

“Once we have done that, Trading Standards will withdraw their application for a licence review and then we will apply for a change to the licence conditions. Hopefully we will not have to return.”

Coun Patricia Bartlett granted the request, telling them: “It would have been better if this had been sorted out sooner”.

After the meeting, Coun Sue Phillips said that although she was pleased the pub would stay open, she was angry about the way the meeting had been conducted.

She said: “I’ve never seen a public council meeting held entirely in secret by lawyers before. I’m not happy at all about that.”

Fellow Mexborough councillor David Holland, who was also present, added: “I didn’t expect that. It was surprising and unexpected.

“I find it difficult to see what extra conditions they can put on, because Wetherspoons are already doing everything they can.

“I think this could have been sorted out before, saving everyone a lot of time and money. But I am pleased with the outcome.

“They shouldn’t have been taking such action against a pub as good as The Old Market Hall.”

Meanwhile, furious members of Council Watch slammed the meeting as a “fiasco”.

They said the “fatally flawed” agenda had brought the council into “disrepute”. It may also “face legal action”, they said.

The group has tabled a question to Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies for consideration at next week’s full council meeting, asking if he will discipline the council’s “employees who flaunt the law making us a laughing stock”.

In a separate letter to Doncaster Council’s chief executive, Rob Vincent, the group suggested the agenda was “deliberately biased”.

It has demanded a public licencing meeting to “place the outcome of Trading Standards folly on record”.