Kirkcaldy pub has licence suspended after drug raid

Police raided the Kirk Inn on Milton Road, Kirkcaldy, just a minute after this picture was taken. (Pic: Fife Free Press)
Police raided the Kirk Inn on Milton Road, Kirkcaldy, just a minute after this picture was taken. (Pic: Fife Free Press)

A Kirkcaldy pub has had its licence suspended for six weeks after countless noise complaints, intoxicated teenagers being caught on premises and a drug bust turning up almost £10,000 of illegal substances.

The Kirk Inn, on Milton Road, was called in front of the Licensing Board after Police Scotland requested a review of its licence.

Sergeant Gordon Hood revealed there had had a number of run ins with the police, with the majority of the complaints coming from seven people.

These incidents included:

September 27 at around 9.40pm, Five calls  made to police about a large scale incident with around 20 people outside the pub.  Police found one man lying on the ground and two men still fighting. After speaking to the manager it emerged they had been kicked out of the pub and started arguing outside.

December 4: After a wake at the pub, teenage boys who had been drinking, got into a fight outside. Police were also told by ambulance control that there was potentially a 17-year-old male who had been the victim of a hit and run outside the pub. The teen was taken to hospital where he couldn’t remember if he had been served alcohol in the pub.

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December 28, 11.30pm: Complaint from a parent of a 16-year-old boy who they found drunk after collecting him from the pub.

Since January 2018, the pub has been subjected to 32 police inspections. On July 19, manager Andrew Holden was made aware of the number of noise complaints and gave assurances that  measures would be put in place to reduce these.

On September 6, 2018, the board was told that Kieran Campbell, bar manager, was arrested after being found in possession of £8600 of cannabis and around £1000 worth of heroin. Intelligence received by Police Scotland said that the pub was being used to deal drugs and the bar was raided. Powder traces were found on surfaces, and sealed bags containing traces of white and brown powder was found to have been stored in the toilet cistern.

The bar was also found to be infested with vermin on September 21 and the health certificate was revoked, preventing them from selling food.

Sergeant Hood said: “We have serious concerns about this premises. The concerns of the Chief Constable are such that we would respectfully go as far to recommend the premises licence is revoked.”

Andrew Thompson, representing owners James Watson and his father in law David Elliot, agreed there had been a number of problems, but as landlords their hands were tied by the law.

Mr Thompson said that the pair had rented out the pub to Andrew Holden, who was the licence holder. They were only made aware of problems in September and had been trying to remove Mr Holden since then, but were having difficulties getting him to leave as he also currently lives at the Kirk Inn.

Mr Thompson said: “Mr Elliot is a well established businessman. He is respectable and well thought of. His son in law James has taken on David’s duties due to ill health.

“When they heard that the licence was being threatened, they told Mr Holden that it was imperative he pulled his act together and stopped causing mayhem. A number of incidents have occurred since then, but this has been during the process of trying to get him removed.

“I would ask your honours not to take this out on the landlords and not revoke the licence. Next time, if there is a next time, landlords will go much further than just due diligence in selecting a tenant.”

Councillor Ryan Smart said: “This is astounding, absolutely astounding. When you see something like this, you think ‘Well it can’t be that bad’ but then it keeps getting worse and worse. At the end of the day, it is you who chose to put these tenants in. I’m worried about how much police and council time has been spent on this.”

Councillor Gavin Ellis agreed, saying; “I’ve never seen someone who has failed the licence on all five conditions before. It’s pretty unique, and not in a good way. How long do you expect removal (of Mr Holden) to take?”

Mr Thompson hoped it was imminent, saying: “If the board was of a mind to just suspend the licence, this would actually help with removal. Because no one would stick around if they couldn’t open.”

He added that closer monitoring of the tenant “was not a usual landlord practice” and that they couldn’t “just show up on a Saturday night and tell them how to run a business”.

The police agreed that all contact with the landlords – Mr Elliot and Watson – had been positive.

Sergeant Hood added: “We’re of no doubt that the problems were all caused by the tenant, but the licence holder does take full responsibility.”

The board agreed to suspend the licence for six weeks starting immediately. Conditions were also placed on the licence that after the suspension, the bar can no longer trade after 11pm, all music must stop at that time, security had to be in place for all functions and at every weekend, young persons must be accompanied by a family member or responsible adult, drinking outside would no longer be permitted and smoking must be closely monitored.

Councillor Smart warned the landlord that he hoped he didn’t see them in front of the committee again, otherwise they would seriously consider revoking the licence altogether.