Wanstead Toby Carvery faces being stripped of its fruit machines in underage gambling crackdown

The Toby Carvery in Holybush Hill. Picture: Google Maps

The Toby Carvery in Holybush Hill. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

A Wanstead Toby Carvery could become the latest pub in Redbridge to be stripped of its fruit machines over repeated failures to stop children using them.

On Thursday, January 23, Redbridge Council's licensing sub-committee will meet to decide whether or not to revoke the Hollybush Hill Toby Carvery's gambling permit for two category C machines (a maximum stake of £1 and maximum prize of £100) and one category D machine (a maximum stake of £1 and maximum prize of £50).

A Redbridge licensing enforcement officer was able to prove that two children under the age of 16 were able to use the category C machines in test purchase visits six months apart.

The first visit took place in January 2019 and the second in June last year - on both occasions children used the machines unchallenged.

All the machines in the pub are in clear view of the bar.

Under the Gambling Act 2005, the local authority or the police are entitled to remove a gambling permit if a venue is failing to promote the licensing objectives, which includes the safeguarding of children.

In documents submitted to the council ahead of the licensing hearing, Mitchells and Butlers Leisure Retail, the company which runs the Toby Carvery, said it "apologises unreservedly" for the two failed test purchases.

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However, representatives for the company have argued that it has taken "appropriate steps" to prevent further lapses - including taking disciplinary action against members of staff present when the children used the machines.

The company's submission goes on to argue that it is "neither necessary nor proportionate" for Redbridge Council to remove its gambling permit.

In November, Redbridge Council became the first local authority in the UK to rescind a pub's gambling permit when it decided to strip The George Public House in Wanstead of four of its machines.

In December, a licensing hearing was due to go ahead because the local authority wanted to do the same to the Railway Inn in George Lane, South Woodford - although this meeting was then postponed and has yet to be rescheduled.

Both of those establishments had also failed underage test purchase operations which raised concerns about how their gambling machines were being monitored.

The licensing sub-committee meeting is due to take place at Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford High Road at 10.30am on Thursday, January 23.

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