Public order fears over Hitchin pub extended opening hours

Hitchin Conservative Club will become JD Wetherspoon

Hitchin Conservative Club will become JD Wetherspoon - Credit: Archant

Fears of “public disorder” have been raised over a pub chain’s licensing application to serve alcohol from 8am every day and remain open until 1.30am three nights a week.

JD Wetherspoon has purchased the former Hitchin Conservative Club on Sun Street, Hitchin, and last month the Comet reported that the chain had submitted a planning application to North Herts District Council (NHDC) for a change of use.

The chain has now applied to NHDC for extended opening hours and to serve alcohol on site.

The hours applied for are Monday to Wednesday, 7am to 12.30am, Thursday to Saturday, 7am to 1.30am, and 7am to 12.30am on Sundays.

The application is also for public holidays and bank holidays, which could see the chain remain open until 2am.

JD Wetherspoon also wants to supply alcohol on and off the premises from Monday to Wednesday, 8am to midnight, Thursday to Saturday, 8am to 1am, and 8am to 1am on Sundays.

Judith Gurney, of Tilehouse Street in Hitchin, said: “I strongly object to the granting of sale of alcohol in the morning because the combination of morning drinking and the location in a busy town centre would be very likely to cause public disorder, a threat to public safety and environmental health and failure to protect children.”

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Mrs Gurney said that, based on the fact that the pub hopes to have 2,500-3,500 customers each week, she was also against the late opening hours.

“This means there will be a huge increase in the number of people dispersing from these premises at closing times, compared with numbers dispersing from the same building when it was a Conservative club,” she said.

“It is the nature of an historic market town to have both businesses and residents’ homes in or near to the town centre, and it is unfair to residents to be disturbed regularly because of late dispersal.”

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins said: “There have been a few concerns about the times and the amount of people expected to visit Wetherspoon.

“The pub is generally known to be a responsible chain but maybe it needs to be looked at when they are in a market town.”

A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said: “Wetherspoon is always keen to have certain hours in its license but it does not mean they will be our trading hours.”