Police want Old Red Lion pub in Whinmoor shut down but regulars say it's a lifeline

Police are urging Leeds City Council licensing chiefs to shut down an east Leeds pub, following attacks and reports of antisocial behaviour around the premises.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 6:30 am
The Old Red Lion, Whinmoor, Leeds.

But regulars at the Old Red Lion in Whinmoor are fighting back, as dozens say the venue is a lifeline for some living in the area, with one claiming the clientèle are “like a family”.

Leeds City Council’s Licensing Sub-committee will hold a summary review meeting next week, where members will hear evidence and decide whether to re-grant an alcohol licence for the venue, following a temporary suspension back in July.

A statement from West Yorkshire Police, published by Leeds City Council, made reference to a stabbing which took place outside the venue back in June, as well as numerous reports of antisocial behaviour at the pub.

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The police’s summary review application stated: “On Sunday, June 13 at around 7.25pm, three males have attended the Old Red Lion.

“Two of them have seemingly attended looking for each other in order to have a confrontation based on their body language. The third male appears to be acting as back up for one.

“The males have been circling the venue looking for each other. The males have walked out and around the front of the venue and across the road where an altercation has taken place between the two involving a knife where one of the males has sustained extremely serious injuries as a result of stab wounds.”

This incident is still under investigation.

It added that, since the incident, two males attending the pub went outside, where one of them was hit by a car, “the impact of which threw his body into the air”.

The document stated: “The customers of this venue appear to have a propensity to carry knives as evidenced above. Not only that they

have the means and willingness to use them in open view of members of the public.

“There appears to be a pattern whereby people are settling bad blood by carrying out knife attacks at the venue.

“The (Premises licence holder/designated premises supervisor) although appear pro-police have lost the ability to keep this pub safe.

“The level of crime and disorder in just the last 2 incidents is shocking and both are linked to a licensed premises.

“Given the fact that these injuries are so severe in nature and the likely appetite for retribution, West Yorkshire Police ask the Licensing Authority for an immediate suspension of the premises licence in the interest of public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder.”

Interim steps have already been taken by the council in preparation for this hearing, as a temporary ban has been made on the pub from selling alcohol and playing live music.

A letter from the council’s entertainment licensing team also claimed they did not believe the pub’s landlords were “strong enough” to operate the venue, and had “no control” over their clientèle, which has led to the assaults, as well as noise nuisance and antisocial behaviour.

However, dozens of people have written in to the council to defend the pub.

One letter read: “I am 60 years old and have been a patron of the Old Red Lion, York Road, Leeds for over 40 years.

“During that time I have seldom seen any trouble inside the pub. The majority of regular customers are 50+ years old and decent law-abiding citizens. The closing down of the pub would be a great loss to these people as it is a much loved meeting place and community hub.”

Another stated: “When Ian and Jackie took over the pub the pub was very run down no‐one hardly attended there, they were the ones who brought the pub back to life.

“There is a lot of people, people who live by themselves, people who suffer from severe mental health that rely on that pub for comfort, company and most of all their sanity. The way they have improved that pub they’re not just their customers they are friends and some even become more like a little family.”

Another read: “The pub is a community hub where we have met some lovely people and to close it will affect a lot of people as it’s a place where everybody is welcomed. I know a few who are lonely or suffer anxiety, depression that go here just for the company so please take this into consideration.”

The Licensing Sub-committee will meet to discuss the application on Tuesday, August 10.