Landlady toasts decision to allow longer opening

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A LANDLADY who has been fighting for six years to extend her pub’s licensing hours finally got her wish last week, just in time for Christmas.

Jan Rutherford, landlady and owner of the Queen’s Head in Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, said she was ‘still shell shocked but very happy’ by the decision of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Licensing Act sub committee, which granted the application to vary her licence last Wednesday.

The Queen’s Head is now able to stay open unril midnight Sunday-Wednesday and until 2am Thursday-Saturday.

The Churchgate Area Association had objected to it because of the potential for increased public nuisance.

Andrew Hinchley, association chairman, said he was ‘disappointed’ the application had been granted because the pub was in a ‘primarily residential area’.

“I believe it attracts a higher percentage of non-local clientele than some other pubs in the immediate area and people who live in the area are more likely to respect it,” he said.

But Mrs Rutherford said: “I live here, I’m a resident also and they’re my neighbours and hopefully my friends so anything I can do to make their lives happier, I will.”

“I don’t want to upset anyone, all I want to do is be able to compete with the competition and work alongside them – I do passionately care about the area.”

The mother of three said customers had been leaving her pub early to get into venues that had late licences and that granting the application would keep her ‘in line with the competition’.

She said she had not received objections from Suffolk Police or the borough council’s environmental health department and had met neighbours and local associations to discuss their concerns and answer questions.

“They had visions of large numbers of people waking them up in the early hours of the morning but that’s not the climate of the drinking culture in Bury,” said Mrs Rutherford.

The landlady, who has run the pub for 25 years, already had a late licence for bank holidays and said she was able to convince most residents that their worries were unfounded.

“Most were totally unaware that I was open any later,” she said.