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HomeNewsPolice concerns over Harrow Road pub plans to lift matchday restrictions

Police concerns over Harrow Road pub plans to lift matchday restrictions

Metropolitan Police have raised concerns over a Wembley pub’s application to lift matchday restrictions for three high-profile football games being held at the national stadium in May and June.

The venue is looking to televise the games and be able to serve alcohol throughout the match, but officers claim these games ‘pose the greatest risk’ to public safety, crime and disorder.

The Arch pub sits on Harrow Road roughly half a mile from the Wembley Stadium. The owner, Savan Patel, has applied to Brent Council to have the conditions removed temporarily for the FA Cup Final on May 25, The Championship Play-Off Final on May 26, and the UEFA Champions League Final on June 1.

But PC Brendan McInnes claims these restrictions are ‘those that cause the most concern’ as they encourage ticketless fans to the area, which was one of the reasons for the mass disorder seen at the Euro 2020 Final between England and Italy.

Many pubs surrounding the stadium operate under strict rules, such as not showing the Wembley games on TV and not selling alcohol an hour before a match starts until fifteen minutes after kick-off. Only last month, The Arch was successful in having some restrictions lifted, including allowing both home and away fans into the pub together for women’s matches only, but an attempt to remove the other two conditions was quashed.

One of the Metropolitan Police’s dedicated football officers, PC Paul Jennings, described the policing of Wembley Stadium as a ‘frustrating role’ due to the high levels of drunkenness and the resulting levels of antisocial behaviour that officers have to deal with.

PC Jennings said: “Premises not serving alcohol for an hour before kick-off greatly assists in the safe ingress of thousands of supporters. Without this, we would inevitably see a later walk up of large numbers of supporters, often under the influence of alcohol, putting increased pressure on the stewarding operation and on the turnstiles themselves increasing the rise to both supporters, staff and police officers.”

Officers also pointed to the venue’s ‘long history’ of breaching its licensing conditions, mainly around matchday restrictions. Over the past six years, the pub has been issued five warnings from officers after being caught for multiple infractions, including overcrowding, not closing on a match day, and using the garden later than it is allowed.

PC McInnes said: “These games pose the greatest risk to public safety, crime and disorder. A venue with such a history of licensing breaches cannot be trusted to adhere to the conditions on its licence, especially on such high profile games, some of which will be internationally televised.

He added: “This poses a further risk where ticketless fans come to the area intent on seeing the games and then trying to cause fights with rival fans. A venue that has literally only just had its licence conditions renewed needs to have a long history of good behaviour with no licensing breaches before any relaxations can be made.”

However, during the previous application, the licence holder’s solicitor argued that most of the warning letters were from many years ago and his client has fully complied with the conditions without any issues for the past two years.

The Arch’s latest application for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) will be reviewed by Brent Council’s Alcohol and Licensing Sub-Committee next week (April 9) when a decision on whether to lift the restrictions will be made.

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