'We're not serving you unless you take your hat off'

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With the mercury dropping below zero, a Preston mum-of-one thought her trendy woolly hat would be the perfect protection against the freezing temperatures.

But she was left stunned after pub staff refused to serve her until she took it off.

Caroline Lonergan says staff at The Wheatsheaf, Watery Lane, Ashton, told her it was pub policy that she had to remove her woolly hat.

When she asked why, she was told it was because it had a peak.

The 45-year-old, from Ashton, a regular at the pub for more than 20 years, says she has worn the Marks and Spencer hat in the pub before and had worn it in another pub in Preston the same day.

She says staff even told her 79-year-old father he would not be served if he put his flat cap on.

But bosses at The Wheatsheaf say they have a strict 'no hats' policy which is clearly marked to all customers as they come into the pub.

The incident happened when Caroline went to the pub with her partner Alan to meet her father and friends at around 4pm on Christmas Eve, after a day shopping in the freezing cold.

She said: "We got a taxi to The Wheatsheaf and decided to have a quick drink.

"We just walked in and as we got to the bar and my partner ordered the drinks the barman said 'I will have to ask you to take your hat off'.

"We had even been in O'Neill's in town. I had my hat on in there and there was no comment.

"I got the hat for my birthday last year and I have worn it in that pub before, but they said this new rule has come in. My dad is 79 and they told him if he had his flat cap on he would not get served."

After taking off her hat, she went to the bathroom but realised she did not have a brush.

"I came out and just felt embarrassed," she added.

"I told the manager and he said, 'You can put it back on'."

But when she went back to the bar to get another round she was again told she would not be served while she was wearing it.

She added: "It was just embarrassing circumstances really. If they'd said to me 'sorry Caroline you have to take it off now please' and I'd have said 'sorry I didn't realise, but if I can keep it on now I won't wear it again in here' that would have been fine."

Gary Roberts, operations director for Amber Taverns, which owns The Wheatsheaf, said: "I'm fully aware of the incident; I was told about it within minutes of it happening.

"The policy is anyone coming into the pub with headwear on with a peak which could cover the face is asked to remove it.

"That is across the board, whether it is flat caps or young lads with baseball caps on.

"We have to have CCTV on the premises as part of our conditions of licence. It is pointless having CCTV if you can't see the faces of the people you are recording. It is for the protection of staff.

"The no cap policy is clearly stated at the entrances to the premises."

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