THE landlord of a controversial Southampton pub which police are bidding to have shut down has revealed that he is quitting.
Raymond Bird has told the Daily Echo that this weekend will be his last at the popular Dorchester Arms and he is leaving – days before licensing chiefs were due to be asked to strip him of his licence.
It means that the pub will now be shut until a new manager can be found.
The Dorchester Arms
As exclusively revealed yesterday, police have compiled a damning dossier during the past 12 months listing a catalogue of incidents at the Onslow Road bar.
The report, which will go before city council licensing chiefs next Thursday, revealed how more than 20 people had been caught up in a brawl at the premises, which they say Mr Bird failed to stop.
Officers also said that Mr Bird had lied over claims that a member of his staff assaulted a customer, that residents living nearby had been forced to endure loud music, and that door staff were not properly licensed.
Today Mr Bird hit back at the accusations, despite initially saying that he wanted to make no comment.
While admitting that “mistakes” had been made, he claimed that he has not been supported by pub owner Enterprise Inns, that he has in fact “turned the pub around” since taking over, and that he had also been praised by police in relation to how he has run events at the pub.
Mr Bird has worked at the Dorchester Arms since 2012, and has managed it since last February.
Just four months later a bar brawl broke out which saw punches and kicks aimed, and pool cues and bar stools brandished. Four taxi drivers later admitted charges of affray.
Mr Bird, 32, said: “I wanted to leave before all this about the hearing.
“There have been some mistakes. It’s quite a challenging pub to take on, but there could have been more assistance from Enterprise Inns.
“I have gone above and beyond – I have sorted out SIA-trained door staff, but they haven’t helped me with things like getting plastic glasses to replaces glass ones, which was a condition added to the licence.”
He added: “We have put some fantastic events on over the last couple of years, which have passed off with no trouble, so we were doing something right.
“I’m quite proud because I think I’ve turned the pub around quite a lot, and I’ve given it my best shot.
“But unfortunately one massive incident on a Sunday night created a cauldron which has caused this outcome of the pub ceasing until a new person comes in.”
Licensing chiefs are being asked by police to revoke the pub’s licence, and they are also being urged to remove Mr Bird as landlord, in the interest of preventing crime and disorder, and public nuisance.