Regulars’ show of support for licensee

The Barons Rest pub in Astley Village

The Barons Rest pub in Astley Village

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A landlady is being thrown out of her Chorley pub following an investigation by police.

Deborah Clarke, 48 licensee of the Barons Rest, Astley Village, was told to leave by its owners, Trust Inns.

However, a 300-name petition has been organised by pub users and the local community in support of her .

Police said they were concerned about “management activities” at the premises.

Sgt Tony Bushell, of Lancashire Police’s southern division licensing department, said: “We had a disorder and assault in the early hours of the morning on April 7 and as a result of the investigation into that there were other issues raised about the running of the premises and the persons in these premises.

“There has been an incident at the premises which, when further investigated, has led to further concerns about management activities.

“They have been investigated by the police and as a result concerns have been raised about the effective management of the premises.

“We have raised these issues with the pub chain and it was clear the issues we raised were in breach of the tenancy agreement based on the information we have issued.

“Trust Inns have taken a decision, based on the information we provided, which put the license in jeopardy.”

Deborah Clarke, who ran the Barons Rest with partner, Damian Cowell, 45, has been at the pub for just three months.

They denied accusations relating to drug dealing at the pub, and fear they are paying the price for one lapse when Deborah was caught serving drinks after time and received a five-year caution.

She said: “It’s quite upsetting. I’ve lost my home, my job, I moved 300 miles to come here to run this pub from Sandhurst in Berkshire because my children live here.

“I haven’t done anything wrong. For one mistake, I’m being punished for something I’ve never done.”

Ward, borough and county councillor Mark Perks said: “I’ve been asked to get involved as a lot of residents are upset.

“The Barons Rest has had its troubles in the past, but everyone who has contacted me and who I’ve spoken to in Astley Village have had nothing but praise for the landlady and what she is doing.

“The support the pub has given to the junior football team committee has been brilliant.

“I haven’t seen anything that would cause a public nuisance or disturbance.

“A 300-strong signed petition is to be sent to Trust Inns saying please reconsider.

“Before they are thrown out I would like a meeting with Trust Inns, the police and the landlady and to get to the bottom of it. If there’s something serious going on, why have no arrests been made?”

The pair have been told to leave by June 20.

Trust Inns, which is based in Chorley, declined to comment.