'Shocking' Euro party puts Walton-le-Dale pub's future at risk

A bustling pub could lose its licence next week following “shocking” scenes during the Euro Final between England and Italy.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 4:55 am

Councillors will debate the future of the Hunters in Walton-le-Dale after police reported a catalogue of disorder including fighting, rowdiness, overcrowding and wholesale disregard for Covid regulations.

It is estimated more than 600 revellers were crammed into an area with seating for just 120 during the final on Sunday July 11 which England lost of penalties. Police say they were verbally abused and threatened by drunken fans, flares were thrown at them and people were seen using the car park as a toilet.

Officers reported a strong smell of cannabis and there were no doormen on duty throughout the day, with drinkers queuing up to get in as early as 9am - 11 hours before kick-off.

Football fans packed in at the Hunters on Euro Final day.

The matter will go before South Ribble’s licensing panel next Monday where members will have the power to impose tougher restrictions on the running of the Hunters, or even remove its premises licence altogether.

In a statement to the hearing Lancashire Police say one of their officers was “shocked” by what she found when called to the pub that day. There were no qualified door staff and she estimated that around 600 people were in the pub and its outdoor seating area, many of them standing drinking from banned glass bottles and not sticking to social distancing rules or wearing a face covering.

“Customers were urinating in public places,” says the statement. “The car park was being used as a toilet due to the overcrowding. As police officers walked through the external areas it was clear from the smell that customers were using cannabis at the premises.

"As police officers tried to gather evidence at the premises ignited flares were thrown at them. In addition, officers encountered drunk and disorderly behaviour from customers who were verbally abusive to officers attending.

Police say fans should have been seated and socially distanced.

"At about 21:00, a fight started between two groups of females on the raised terrace area outside.

“It is estimated that there were in excess of 600 people in the venue that would on a normal day have seating for about 120. Very few customers were wearing masks and no staff at the time (of my visit) requested customers to wear them indoors.

"There was no table service at the premises resulting in customers queuing with no social distancing. There was no track and trace at the entrance and no sanitation available until inside.”

Police say they have asked for a review “to highlight the poor management” on the day.They also say members of the public contacted them to report Covid regulations being ignored at the pub on six previous occasions since August last year.

Standing room only for drinkers on matchday.

Chris Ward, from South Ribble’s licensing department, supported the police call for a review of the pub’s licence.

He said he felt the lack of door staff meant the pub had no way of controlling outbreaks of violence, “with such a large amount of intoxicated people who were clearly showing aggression to police.”

Attempts have been made to contact the Hunters.