Super Saturday: Some Redbridge pubs staying shut while others testing the waters on re-opening
- Credit: Wanstead Fringe
As “Super Saturday” approaches when pubs are allowed to re-open, some owners are choosing to stay shut and others are cautiously seeing how things go.
Ronnie Finch, owner of The Duke in Nightingale Lane, Wanstead, said it doesn’t make sense for him to re-open because of the combination of the small size of his premises and the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which limits people drinking outside.
PSPOs were introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which gives local authorities the power to restrict certain behaviours within a specified area.
There are four PSPO zones across the borough, with two prohibiting public consumption of alcohol around Ilford town centre and Woodford Green, Wanstead and South Woodford.
Ronnie said: “The issue of people drinking outside is not a problem until the pandemic hit when now people are being told it’s safer to drink outside.
“The PSPO wasn’t designed to stop you and I from having a pint outside a pub but if a bunch of people turn up and there’s nowhere for them to stand so they need to cross the road, that’s not allowed and they can get fined.”
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Ronnie’s pub has a maximum of 70 seats inside without social distancing and he said he can’t sell pints to people and tell them to go outside and risk them having it taken away and possibly be fined if police enforce the PSPO.
He added: “Redbridge Council and the police are not advising us on what to do, and the PSPOs aren’t borough-wide which adds to further confusion because no one knows about it.”
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One pub which is opening is the Prince of Wales, in Green Lane, Ilford. It has a large beer garden but owner David Christof is worried about what will happen if it rains, which is currently forecast.
He said: “If it rains and we have 100 people out there do you not let them inside and watch them get soaking wet or do you let them in?
“We’re in a difficult position because these are guidelines, not laws, but it’s down to us to enforce things that aren’t laws.”
David has run pubs for the past 30 years but admitted to feeling “a bit lost at the moment”.
Ronnie went even further saying: “It’s crippling not knowing how we can open.”
Like other pubs he is offering takeaway but is hardly making any money from that and was forced to make staff redundancies.
He said: “I grew up in Wanstead and I’ve got a 15-year licence on the pub and I see it as a service to the community so I want to see it through but at the same time I’ve got a pile of debt.”