Landlady loses role at hotel among new safety measures

Troubled: The Chequers Hotel in High Street, Spalding
Troubled: The Chequers Hotel in High Street, Spalding

A LICENSING panel removed the landlady from her supervisory role at The Chequers Hotel in Holbeach after police forced a review of the premises licence following two vicious assaults.

A new designated premises supervisor must replace Chony Andrews.

The panel imposed conditions to help ensure public safety at the troubled High Street hotel, including the appointment of doormen and more effective CCTV.

The premises licence holder is The Chequers Hotel Holbeach Ltd and Mrs Andrews and husband Mark are the only directors. They can remain in their company roles.

Police concerns included mass fights and under-age drinking, but things came to a head on June 19 last year when two men were attacked and the Andrews “obstructed” investigating officers.

Police say one man was punched, kicked and stamped on before being dragged outside and dumped in an alley. The second man was repeatedly punched before being “knocked out cold” with one blow.

Police say hotel bosses at first denied all knowledge of the attacks – but the hotel’s own CCTV footage, which officers seized, showed they were there at the time.

The licensing panel met on Wednesday and spent an hour viewing the hotel’s CCTV images with the press and public excluded.

Panel chairman Malcolm Chandler said it was necessary for proceedings to be held behind closed doors because there were “recognisable pictures of people who were not directly involved”.

Lincolnshire Police assistant solicitor Daniel Richardson said the most serious complaint centred on the fight in which the two men were injured and the fact that staff were uncooperative.

He said: “Further than that, one might say they have obstructed and told lies to the police when they are investigating a quite serious offence.”

Police licensing officers visited the hotel this year and found CCTV cameras pointing at walls and ceilings.

Mr Andrews admitted he doesn’t know how to operate the CCTV system other than switching it on or off, but has two people to call on if images need to be downloaded.

Steve McGregor, acting for the Andrews, said the CCTV failings have been rectified.

He said: “The CCTV from their own system is the very thing that’s been used against them. I am not saying that’s wrong, but the primary evidence in this case is their own CCTV.”

Mr McGregor said the hearing had been a salutary lesson for the Andrews and urged the panel not to take “the draconian step” of revoking the hotel’s licence.

He said Mr Andrews “accepts that once the fight had occurred he could have dealt with things differently.”

The hearing was told former live-in bar manageress Leanne Smith – also known as Leanne Cooper – lost her role in January and the Andrews now run the premises as a couple.

Mr Andrews said: “Me and my wife don’t take any wages from The Chequers Hotel because it’s running at break even.”

He confirmed the hotel is for sale and offers have been made.