Army veteran landlord heads up new 'Pubwatch' scheme established to ensure safety and wellbeing in South Ribble's watering holes

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A Leyland landlord is heading up the new South Ribble Pubwatch scheme established to ensure the safety and wellbeing of licensed premises, pub-goers, and their local communities.

Some 30 licencees gathered at the Civic Centre in Leyland last Thursday for the inaugural meeting of the South Ribble Pubwatch

New South Ribble Pubwatch Chair (Paul Cookson, left) and Vice-Chair (Jim Andrew, right)

New South Ribble Pubwatch Chair (Paul Cookson, left) and Vice-Chair (Jim Andrew, right)

It was attended by the council’s Head of Licensing, officers from South Ribble Police, and Dave Daly from National Pubwatch.

Elected as Chair of the South Ribble Pubwatch was Paul Cookson, 58, an ex-serviceman who has more than 30 years of experience in the pub industry.

Mr Cookson runs The Queens Pub in Leyland and said: “I am delighted to take on the role of Chair.

"The South Ribble Pubwatch is a great scheme which has the backing of both the council and the police.

"I encourage all pubs, bars and other licensed venues such as sports clubs to get involved and join the Pubwatch as soon as they can.

"I will be going round the borough over the next two or three weeks, encouraging license holders and landlords to sign up.”

Elected as Vice-Chair of the South Ribble Pubwatch was Jim Andrew, 60, from Leyland, who has been a member of the National Pubwatch for more than 10 years.

Mr Andrew is the new manager of The Railway Pub in Leyland, which recently went through a massive refurbishment – including improved CCTV.

He said: “I’m a great believer in Pubwatch. I’ve been a member for many years. I want to try and use and promote the use of technology in order to prevent crime and keep tabs on barred individuals.

"A great example is something called ‘Schemelink’ which allows landlords to share and view the names and photos of banned pub-goers so that they know who they should and should not admit.

"One of the key notions behind Pubwatch is the slogan: “Out of one; out of all”. We want the pubs in South Ribble to be safe places to come and enjoy yourself without the blight of bad behaviour or illegal activity.”

The South Ribble Pubwatch will be further boosted by the membership of the Wetherspoons pubs in the borough – because it is company policy for every one of their pubs to join the local Pubwatch.

Two officers from South Ribble Police were in attendance – and gave their insight into monitoring and policing pubs.

In particular, they said, any pubs that do not sign up will face extra scrutiny. They pledged to be an active member of the South Ribble Pubwatch – contactable and on hand to deal with any issues, alongside the council’s Licensing Team.

South Ribble Coun Karen Walton, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Safety, Wellbeing and Environmental at South Ribble Council, said: “I’m delighted that we can announce this new South Ribble Pubwatch – and I’m even happier to see so many pubs already attending meetings and taking an active part.

“However, there are plenty of license holders who were unfortunately absent from the meeting – so I encourage them to contact the council’s Licensing Team as soon as possible to find out more information.

“With Paul and Jim in their new positions, we can really push on and start making our pubs safer, friendlier and more inviting – with less crime and less troublemakers.”

The South Ribble Pubwatch will be able to ban pub-goers from all premises in the borough, if there is sufficient evidence that says they have committed offences in South Ribble pubs.

This will give greater peace of mind to drinkers across the borough who simply want to enjoy a nice beverage in a hospitable, welcoming environment.

Helen Nowell, a member of the bar team at Bamber Bridge FC, said: “It’s a really good idea. It’s good for everyone to be involved. For us at the football club, we do a lot of large private functions, and it’ll be good to get a hold on who has been banned from other local pubs in Bamber Bridge and who to look out for.

"It will help community safety and give everyone that added sense of security.”

Haydyn Williams, 45, of the Cann Bridge Ale House in Higher Walton, said: “We want pubs to be a nice safe place for a night out. People should not feel threatened or intimidated in my pub or any other.

"Hopefully I can have a positive input into the South Ribble Pubwatch scheme; bringing in new ideas, especially as someone who only recently opened up a new micropub in August. My wife is the licence holder and together, we will be active members of this really positive action group.”

Any license holders that wish to join the South Ribble Pubwatch should contact the council’s Licensing Team on licensing@southribble.gov.uk