Jan 17 2008 by Sam Casey, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
A DRAMATIC stand-off took place at a newly opened pro-smoking pub yesterday as brewery bosses attempted to shut it down.
An official from Admiral Taverns, backed up by police, Kirklees Council licensing officials and Environmental Health officers, unsuccessfully tried to evict Stuart Smith from the College Arms.
As reported in yesterday’s Examiner, landlord Mr Smith had boasted he was going to allow punters to smoke in the Queensgate pub.
Yesterday evening Admiral moved in to tell Mr Smith he was trespassing on the premises.
The company claimed Mr Smith’s son, Luke, who had a temporary licence, had terminated his agreement with immediate effect.
Their official demanded that Mr Smith leave the pub – and even had a locksmith on stand-by to change the locks.
But Mr Smith said his son had not knowingly surrendered the licence and refused to budge.
By 5pm the brewery representative, police and council had all left without taking action.
Mr Smith remained in the premises with a number of other people last night to continue a “private party” that had begun earlier that afternoon.
He served free beer and allowed people to smoke.
Admiral is now pursuing legal action against him as an alleged squatter and has vowed to have him evicted.
But Mr Smith said: “They can’t take possession of these premises because they don’t have the right.
“I live here and I have got permission to be here.
“My son has a six-month tenancy and they have to give 28 days’ notice to terminate that.
“They expected the police to back them up and remove me, but they couldn’t do anything.”
He said he would be taking legal advice and added: “I was not doing anything wrong as I was having a private party and not charging people for beer.
“The authorities are trying any means possible to stop what I’m trying to do here – to give people freedom of choice and the right to smoke if they want – but it won’t work.”
A spokesman for Admiral confirmed Luke Smith had a temporary licence for the College Arms.
But he added: “It was still in the early stages and was not enough to get the pub open.
“Yesterday Luke Smith has terminated that temporary licence so no-one actually has any licence for that pub and legally it cannot open.
“We are taking steps to get the keys for the College Arms and making sure it remains closed until the licence is sorted out.
“Admiral has never had any agreement with Stuart Smith. He is the father of a man with whom we did have a temporary agreement.”
Mr Smith, 39, who is originally from Newsome, attracted attention last week when he publicly admitted that he had been allowing smoking at the Golden Fleece in Greetland, which he also runs.
No action has been taken against those premises.
But yesterday the police said they would come down hard on Mr Smith if it was proved he was allowing people to light up inside public premises.
Neighbourhood policing team inspector David Glover said: “We are certainly not going to allow smoking in licensed premises and we will enforce the law rigorously.
“If it is being used as private premises we can’t take action, but we will be using plain clothes officers and CCTV to monitor the situation and, if it becomes clear members of the public are smoking in there as a public building, we will take the necessary steps.
“We are not about to let people flout the law.”
A spokeswoman for the council said it would not be taking action.
She said: “As the pub has not opened it is a matter for the brewery to sort out with Mr Smith and the other parties.”