Lockdown lock-ins: council calls time on secret pub sessions
Complaints that some pubs are having lock-ins during the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown are being dealt with “as a matter of urgency” by Cheshire East Council.
The Chronicle has learnt that in the Sandbach area alone the authority's trading standards department is investigating two separate complaints about one pub, and two other establishments have already been dealt with.
The news came to light following a phone call between Sandbach town councillor David Jack and a representative from trading standards, in response to his concerns about how the borough council attempted to make contact with the licensee of a pub, about which the authority had received complaints.
The trading standards representative made it clear to Coun Jack that there had been no breach in confidentiality by attempting to get in touch with the pub by email and social media, having failed to establish contact via other means.
They explained that under the coronavirus regulations, trading standards departments had been delegated all of the powers to deal with the closure of such businesses.
“We hope you deem this as a priority and so we are taking every single complaint we receive regarding businesses continuing to operate very seriously indeed,” they told him.
Explaining the need to reach the unnamed pub via social media after phone calls went unanswered, they said: “We have been given guidance on how we have to deal with these complaints so we are not attending the business as that would be dangerous to do so. We are trying to limit the amount of time we spend in contact with people and businesses.”
The trading standards representative adds: “These, and I'm sure you would agree, are unprecedented times. It is as a matter of urgency that there was no public gathering and so any complaint, any indication that any businesses are having lock-ins, and we've had two separate complaints about this pub, will be dealt with urgently.”
They added that the department had been receiving numerous complaints “that are dealt with urgently”.
Coun Jack claimed there had been a breach of GDPR (data protection) and that it was a breach of confidentiality. He claimed the pub closed the moment the Government told it to and has not traded since.
He told them: “There are pubs that have been trading that were reported to the police from the very outset.”
The trading standards representative said one of the pubs had “definitely been dealt with”.
The trading standards representative said: “I think it is more important to get any public gathering stopped immediately than to consider anything else.”
Coun Jack then accused the officer of “acting hysterically,” at which point the trading standards representative told him they were going to stop the conversation and tell their manager that he thought they were “hysterical” in the way they were dealing with it.
The Chronicle has asked Cheshire East Council for an official comment about how it was dealing with reports of pubs trading during the lockdown but had not received a response by deadline yesterday (Wednesday).
A spokesperson for Cheshire Police said officers had only been called to one such incident, at a pub in Crewe.