Application to extend outdoor smoking hours at The Maidens Head in Uckfield

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AN APPLICATION to extend hours when people can go out of a popular Uckfield pub to smoke on the pavement has drawn a furious reaction from neighbours.

The licence held by Saviour Inns, operators of The Maidens Head in Uckfield High Street, already allows people to go outside for a smoke then in again up to 11pm. The company wants to extend that to midnight. Landlords are also asking if doors at the back – formerly locked when entertainment is going on – could be opened so people can smoke on a patio. The application will be heard by Wealden District Council’s licensing sub-committee on Tuesday, December 13.

But local residents say they have already suffered unacceptable disturbance from activities at the pub and are adamant that strict regulations should not be slackened.

Clifford Dann, who lives opposite, cites shouting and foul language, high-pitched screaming women’s voices and drivers having to swerve dangerously to avoid people in the road.

In a letter to the committee, Peter Shaw quotes nuisance ‘including loud and drunken behaviour, public indecency, stabbing, firearms offences, aggression, threats and noise to an intolerable level – including shrieking, fighting, swearing and blasphemy.’ The council’s own licensing and pollution control teams note consistent complaints throughout 2009-2010.

Things improved last December after meetings were held but the situation gradually worsened during 2011.

The team manager has grave concerns about how re-entry time would be managed. His suggestion could be to offer a set time limited to a specific number of people allowed outside the front to smoke.

He says wording could be altered to read: ‘There shall be no entry or re-entry after (time to be decided) except for eight people at any time who may exit the front of the premises to smoke.’

The current licence says double rear fire doors shall be kept closed and alarmed when entertainment is taking place. Landlords want that changed so customers using the rear patio for smoking can use the doors to get in and out.

But Mr Dann’s letter indicates that conditions for final entry and re-entry time have never been complied with nor enforced by the licensing authority – which results in ‘considerable anti-social behaviour from 11pm onwards with up to 35 people on the pavement at any one time up to midnight.’