Peterborough pub farce shows what happens when community polices itself

The events surrounding Peterborough's newest pub Mulberry Tree Farm were extraordinary.

Friday, 12th January 2018, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 12th January 2018, 1:55 pm
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -

It seems problems were sparked by one man threatening staff and customers.

From that unpleasant acorn grew an oak tree of community angst involving heavy-handed security guards, upset families, frightened staff, allegations of racism and the pub battening down its hatches and closing its door, presumably because it feared more trouble.

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It is an unacceptable state of affairs, and one in which there are no winners.

A man behaving badly in a pub is hardly a remarkable event in itself.

What should have happened is the police should have been called, they should have dealt with the man followed by criminal charges, if warranted.

It didn’t and instead what followed was a disgraceful shambles which shows what happens when the community is left to police itself.

The pub, quite rightly, in seeking to protect its staff and customers employed security staff (don’t forget this is supposed to be a family pub in a respectable part of the city).

But this was too heavy handed and the Radford family who were turned away because they were believed to be ‘travellers’ were understandably outraged.

In the end, the pub closes, it says on police advice. The police deny this. All they said was that they had visited the pub before it opened and “advised that as the licence holder they have the right to close the venue as and when they wish to do so.’’

The pub is run by Greene King, which has been in business for more than 200 years and owns thousands of pubs, so they probably already knew this!

Is this the police washing their hands of low-level crime and leaving us, the public, to get on with it?

Senior police officers and politicians have been softening us up for some time so we get the message, the police are not going to deal with low-level crime (except speeding, of course).

They ask us what do you want us to deal with – human slavery and child abuse or car crime and yobs behaving badly? The answer is, I repeat, we want you to deal with both.

This ‘either/or ultimatum’ is a dangerous and foolhardy path to follow.

For the record, I think Cambridgeshire, including the top brass, do a very decent job.

But, where is the leadership from the politicians, including “our voice’’ the police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite (elected by 14 per cent of the eligible population, fact fans).

He knows the people of Cambridgeshire are worried about low-level crime because it’s in his police and crime plan on his swanky website.

The Mulberry Tree is in Shailesh Vara’s constituency. As fair and sensible an MP as you could wish for, yet his response was disappointingly bland. I can only hope, in his usual manner, he is being more robust behind the scenes.

Publicans can pick and choose who they want to serve, police officers can not... unless the politicians let them.

My cup of woe

Another first weekend in January, another humiliating FA Cup exit for my team the mighty Leeds.

While Posh were putting the second city’s, second club’s second team to the sword, Leeds were embarrassing themselves and their fans on national TV (it was live on BBC Wales!).

As if that wasn’t enough, our star player got himself sent off for spitting at an opponent in the closing seconds. He has quite rightly been suspended, but the punishment is just another example of football’s cock-eyed version of justice.

A player who seriously injures an opponent and potentially destroys his career and robs him of his livelihood, gets a three-match ban (assuming the ref sees and acts on it in the first place!) and spitting, vile as it is carries a six-match ban!

One David Farrell

Many Posh fans will be sad that David Farrell has left the club. His exploits on the pitch earned him legend status. My favourite memory of him is when he was caught on Sky TV singing along with the crowd “there’s only one David Farrell’’ after he scored in a cup tie against Newcastle.

There’s no truth in the rumour that several Leeds players were seen singing along on Sunday, although the chant was “we’re **** and we know we are’’.

Show goes on

It’s still early days, but you would have to say that the people who took over the Broadway in Peterborough have made a good job of it.

It’s great news that West End impresario Bill Kenwright’s production company is to return to the theatre and the city.

I’m no lover of the theatre (if the Old Vic was opposite my house I still probably wouldn’t go) but it is an integral and important part of the city’s cultural offering.

Take a bow, Peter Dawe, Mark Ringer and the team at Broadway.

Lowest of the low

It wasn’t a good end to the old year, or a good start to the new one, in Peterborough... despicable thieves and vandals struck at Thorpe Hall hospice, at the home of disabled children’s charity Little Miracles and at the city’s favourite leisure location, Ferry Meadows.

As if this wasn’t enough a bike thief has taken a fancy to the racks outside Telegraph Towers and helped himself to several of my colleagues’ bikes (not my boneshaker, thankfully).

To all the thieves and vandals out there, I wish you a Crappy New Year.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

My three-year-old son is turning into something of a comedian – not a traditional stand-up funnyman but more in a surreal Spike Milligan sort of way. When Mrs T picked him up from nursery one day this week, the tears were still rolling down the cheeks of staff who had been subjected to T2’s unique brand of humour. Quite clearly he was making it up as he went along (a chip off the old block!) but it was delivered with panache. His best gag was: How did the fox skate across the pond?

“I don’t know,’’ I asked, “how did the fox skate across the pond?’’ With a triumphant chuckle he delivered his punchline: “On a bicycle’’.

Well it made me laugh.